By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
Thinking about the nervous moments leading up to running the 400 hurdles is enough to nearly make Paige Miller sick.
The satisfaction after finishing is what keeps bringing Miller back to the event.
It is what Miller does in the little over a minute between those distinctly different feelings that makes the West Branch senior one of the top 400 hurdlers in the state.
Miller ranks fifth in the state and leads Class 2A after running a career-best time of 1:06.2 in the 400 hurdles to win the event at the Creek Classic Relays last Friday.
“It’s my favorite and it also makes me the most nervous,” Miller said of the 400 hurdles. “I get so nervous every time I almost throw up but when I’m done I realize how much I really love it and it’s a big passion of mine.”
The 400 hurdles is a grueling event that ranks among the most challenging in the sport.
That is the part of the event that causes the pre-race nerves for Miller.
It’s always what Miller loves about the event.
“I love how much an impact your mindset has on it and it’s really pushing me to be better in every event I’ve competed in,” Miller said. “Just the thought of their actually being real hurdles in front of you and having to get past them is really exciting for me.”
In her senior season Miller hasn’t just gotten past those hurdles she has soared over them.
Miller has already dropped more than two seconds from her best 400 hurdle time from last season.
The 1:06.2 she clocked in Tiffin on Friday ranks more than two and a half seconds faster than the next best time in Class 2A.
“I’m about where I was hoping I would be, I had pretty big expectations this year,” Miller said. “Compared to the past year’s I’m pretty far ahead of where I have been so I just want to keep pushing harder. “
Miller isn’t done.
She hopes to lower her time by a few seconds heading into the Drake Relays later this month.
Miller currently sits less than a full second off the second-best time in the state this season.
“I’m hoping to get into the 1:04 or high 1:03s,” Miller said. “My main goal right now is trying to beat the West Branch record which is low 1:05s. I want to try to get that and keep going lower.”
The win in the 400 hurdles at the Creek Classic Relays was one of four first-place finishes for Miller who ran on a trio of winning relay teams.
Miller anchored the West Branch shuttle hurdle, 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams to titles in season-best times on Friday.
One of only four seniors on the West Branch roster, Miller has become the leader of the West Branch relay squads that feature freshman Jaylen Votroubek, Kaiya Luneckas and Taylor Thein as well as junior Tatum Koenig.
“I remember being a freshman and how much pressure it is,” Miller said. “They have done a really good job of handling everything and stepping up to the expectations that we have and what we want to accomplish this year.”
All three of those relay teams clocked times at the Creek Classic Relays last week that rank in the top seven in Class 2A this season.
The 4:15.13 in the 4×400 is the fifth best time in 2A this year while the 1:51.78 from the 4×200 team is seventh best.
“For a long time we had no idea who we were going to put into the relays because we had so many girls to choose from,” Miller said. “I had the expectation as being just as good as any other year so long as we pushed ourselves and I think we’ve done a really good job of that so I’ve been pretty happy so far.”