By JOSH SIGLER KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — Fletcher Miller wrestled in the 140-pound weight class for Kokomo High School in his freshman season.
As he’s grown into a 220-pound force on the mat, it was those days in the middle weights that he looks back upon as the No. 1 key to his development into one of the best prep grapplers in Indiana.
“I started as a real little guy, and I think that really helped my wrestling,” Miller said. “A lot of bigger guys are just strong brutes, and I think it helps me that I’ve turned into one of those guys who can wrestle like a little guy while being a big guy.”
That combination of size, strength and quickness helped put Miller on the map over the last calendar year, and now he’s set to continue his wrestling career at Indiana after signing his National Letter of Intent this week. According to Kokomo coach Ryan Wells, Miller is the first Wildkat male athlete to sign with a Big Ten School since Dondre Johnson (Purdue, football) in 1996.
“I’m on Cloud Nine right now. All the support from everyone — it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s something I could’ve never imagined doing even just a year ago. I was just hoping to go somewhere if I could get. It really came together for me this summer and worked out in my favor. It’s going to be an amazing experience.”
In his first three seasons on the mat for the Kats, Miller has compiled a 133-13 record with a haul of titles — two North Central Conference, two sectional, two regional and a semistate. He went 50-1 last season and finished as the state runner-up in the 220 class to Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson (49-0) in a 7-2 decision. Now a senior as well, Robinson, the son of Purdue basketball legend Glenn Robinson, will play football for the Boilermakers in 2014.
Over the summer, Miller competed in the USA Wrestling freestyle and folkstyle national tournaments, earning All-American honors both times.
“I will stay in 220 this year, and the goal is obviously to go out and get the state title that I missed out on last year,” said Miller, who is coming off a strong football season. “I’m determined to get that done. I definitely want [Robinson] to wrestle 220 again. I want another crack at it. You never want to go out and feel like you left something out on the mat. You always want to leave it all out there, so I definitely want a rematch. That’ll be a fun one.”
The largest non-heavyweight class in NCAA Division I is 197, so Miller is likely to wrestle heavyweight for the Hoosiers, which went 9-10 last year in dual meets and finished 11th in the Big Ten Championships. Indiana has only one heavyweight on its current roster, so Miller has a legitimate opportunity to make a major impact right away.
“The intensity level is going to pick up a lot,” Miller said. “Just like the transition from middle school to high school, it’s going to be a big step from high school to college. It’ll definitely be an adjustment, but I think I’m ready for it. The heavyweight they have now is a senior, so next year I might have to step in and play a big role in the team, so I just need to prepare myself to be ready for anything.”