Track & Field: Charles Miller enjoyed run with Whitehall-Yearling

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Whitehall-Yearling senior Charles Miller, who has committed to play basketball at Wilmington College, was looking forward to his second season with the Rams boys track and field team before spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Already a key contributor on the boys basketball team, Charles Miller quickly adapted to a pair of other sports in the latter stages of his career at Whitehall-Yearling.

Upon the urging of friend Raymell Byrd, who was a standout for the Rams in football and track and field, Miller joined both of those programs and contributed in both.

Miller competed in just one season in track because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but he helped set a program record in the 400-meter relay (42.64 seconds) during his junior year. He was joined on the relay by Christian Gordon and 2019 graduates Byrd and Rashaad Strickland.

"At first, I really didn't like running," said Miller, who also competed in the high jump. "I thought the conditioning would be harder, but Raymell was telling me he just needed me for high jump and I didn't have to run. We ended up running and the coaches were saying I was pretty fast. I tried it and it was fun."

The relay advanced to the Division I state meet last spring, but was disqualified in its preliminary for an illegal exchange.

Miller and Gordon were hoping to return to state this spring as seniors, but the OHSAA canceled the season because of the coronavirus. First-year coach Kyle Jefferson, who served as an assistant last season, said Miller had been impressive during the preseason.

"Charles was playing basketball, so he came straight from the (district) tournament to practice," Jefferson said. "Charles is one of the nicest kids you could ever meet. He's always smiling. It's contagious."

Jefferson said five or six other athletes were competing to round out the relay.

"It's a missed opportunity," he said. "I'm starting to look forward to next year. We should be fine next year, too."

Last season, Miller helped lead the Rams to the MSL-Ohio Division title, running on the first-place 400 (43.49) and 800 (1:31.48) relays.

"Track was fun while it lasted," he said. "I regret not (competing in) track my first two years. I also regret not playing football my first three years. ... My mom (Tiara Cameron) didn't want me playing football. She didn't think the sport was safe enough. I grew up playing basketball, so once football came around, she was scared about it."

A starting guard in basketball, Miller capped a four-year career with the Rams by helping them earn a share of the MSL-Ohio title last season. They advanced to a Division I district semifinal and finished 15-9.

Miller will play basketball at Wilmington, a Division III program.

He played running back and linebacker for the football team last fall and was honorable mention all-league. He rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and had 10 catches for 104 yards, and also contributed 27 tackles and two interceptions.

"To say our program was better for him choosing to play football for the Rams is an understatement," football coach Rod Lightfoot said. "His outstanding athleticism and play-making abilities aside, Charles' unrivaled leadership and uncompromising desire to get better every single day set the bar for our program. It was truly a privilege to coach Charles, and he will be missed."

Miller will miss the friendships he developed at Whitehall.

"I'm going to miss the bond with the coaches and my teammates," he said. "Since I played three sports, I had a lot of bonds with all the coaches, the athletics director and the athletic trainers."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank