Cross Country: Worthington Kilbourne's Steven Miller leads pack in OCC-Capital meet

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Kilbourne freshman Steven Miller won the OCC-Capital Division boys cross country meet Oct. 17 at Westerville North, even surprising himself. “I did not expect it,” he said. “I just thought ‘well, here’s another race, let’s see what I can do.’ "

Many cross country runners in Ohio go their entire prep careers without finishing in the top 10 in a race, let alone win one. 

Worthington Kilbourne’s Steven Miller did it in his first year on the boys team, winning  one of the biggest races of the season while setting a personal record in the process. 

The freshman placed first (16 minutes, 18.6 seconds) in a field of 72 runners in the OCC-Capital Division meet Oct. 17 at Westerville North. His performance led the Wolves to second place with 54 points, behind Dublin Scioto (32) and ahead of North (90), Canal Winchester (91), Delaware (118), Big Walnut (148) and Westerville South (151).

Miller, who earned first-team all-league honors, said he didn’t foresee such an important win coming so early in his career.

“I did not expect it,” he said. “I just thought ‘well, here’s another race, let’s see what I can do.’

“I thought it was a good race. I felt like my whole team that was there was supporting me, and they ran great. I feel like the motivation really helped with getting first place.”

Coach Josh Stegman said he had faith in Miller. 

“We certainly knew it was possible,” Stegman said. “It’s going to sound cliché, but the conditions were right. The morning was crisp. ... The course is fast.”

While Miller set the pace, the Wolves also got strong performances from their other top freshmen as Ryan Smith finished fifth (16:44.2), A.J. Hawkins placed 14th (17:27.5) and Stephen Tice was 22nd (17:53.0). Smith earned first-team all-league honors, and Hawkins was second-team all-league. 

Junior Luke Miller finished 15th (17:28.4) to earn honorable-mention all-league.

“We tried to stay as close as we could and tried to be a team,” Steven Miller said. "We tried to support each other to pass that (next) guy. We built off of each other.” 

Stegman said while Miller put together a special performance, any one of his top runners is capable of producing a winning effort.

“We knew what the competition was going to be like going in, so all of our guys were prepared for that," Stegman said. "And honestly, it was kind of like ‘who’s going to step up and do this thing? Who’s going to be the one to reach out and grab the challenge by the horns?’ It could have been any of our top three or four guys that were going to go ‘OK, challenge accepted, here we go.’ ” 

Stegman said the Wolves’ future is bright with the young talent they have on their roster. 

“Steven’s a special guy, but so is Ryan and so is A.J. and so is Stephen Tice and so is Luke Miller,” Stegman said. “I’m super blessed that our team is in this position right now, because I imagine there’d be some coaches out there that would chew off their index finger to be able to coach a team like this.” 

The girls team finished sixth (107) in the league meet behind Scioto (63), Canal Winchester (79), Big Walnut (97), North (101) and South (101) and ahead of Delaware (113), but Toby Bomser was second (19:14.87) and Riley Tate was fourth (19:41.7).

The boys and girls competed in the Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby. The top five teams and runners not on a qualifying team who finished in the top 20 advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North.

“The way these guys have trained all season has been fantastic,” Stegman said. “The performance at the OCC meet was just a little tiny glimpse of things to come as these guys start to jell and get to know each other a little better.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve