By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Paige Miller didn’t get exactly what she wanted on the second day of the Class 2A state track and field meet.
The West Branch senior did get exactly what she needed on Friday and that was another chance to compete at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Miller bounced back from a fall in the prelims of the shuttle hurdle on Thursday night to finish third in the 400 hurdles in a career-best time of 1:05.79
“It was really important for me to run again today,” Miller said. “I was looking forward to it because last night is definitely not something I wanted to keep in my mind for very long so being able to come back today and work towards my goal was important.”
Miller’s all-time best time on Friday came less than 24 hours after her all-time low in the sport.
Leading in its preliminary heat of the shuttle hurdle relay Miller tripped in the final 20 meters.
What looked like a possible top-three seed in the final turned into a 15th place finish as West Branch missed the shuttle hurdle relay finals for the first time in Miller’s career.
“That is definitely not how I pictured my senior year shuttle going,” said Miller who won three shuttle hurdle relay medals in her career including a gold in 2015. “That was tough.”
Thursday’s spill couldn’t keep Miller down.
Her 1:05.79 was more than .40 of a second faster than her previous career best and nearly two seconds faster than her state meet time from a year ago when she finished 10th.
“Last night I thought about it for a while but I knew I had to wipe it out of my brain pretty quick because I didn’t have much time to dwell on it,” Miller said. “I was definitely ready to get back out here.”
Some athletes would have stewed over the missed opportunity on Thursday but not Miller.
Instead of worry about the past she looked to the future and came back Friday determined to turn her final trip to the state meet into a great one. Miller left the track following the 400 hurdles sporting a pair of skinned knees from Thursday’s fall and a huge smile.
Her third-place finish was the second medal of her career in the event after an eighth-place finish as a sophomore.
“My main goal was to win but pr’ing is something that makes me happy because I never imagined a year ago even running in the 1:06’s again,” Miller said. “I was just happy I could do that.”
Miller led late in the race but West Central Valley senior Kristin Culp gained ground in the final 30 meters to win in a time of 1:04.84 while Annika Wall of Jesup was second in 1:05.5.
“I saw the girl on the left fall I was like ‘come on Pagie push’,” Miller said. “I didn’t see the girl that won until the end. She just had a little more kick at the end than I did.”