Wrestlers have to win their first two matches at the semistate to qualify for state. After that, they wrestle for places in the top four.
“The moment when I saw the time hit zero, that’s when it really hit me,” Miller said of his ticket-round match last Saturday. “I kind of looked up at the clock and it saw it go 3, 2, 1, I kind of thought to myself, ‘You’re a state qualifier. You’re where you need to be now.’ The rest of the day was, go see what happens, go try to get a good spot for the next weekend.”
Miller was able to feed off the emotion of Ledford winning his way to state, and winning his 120-pound semifinal match against previously unbeaten A.J. Mosier of South Adams. Ledford scored a second-period pin in that match. Several weights later, Miller scored a first-period pin in his semifinal.
“Watching his matches all day really had me pumped up for my matches,” Miller said. “The semifinals match where he wrestled Mosier, that had us all jacked up pretty good and I went out pretty pumped up for my match. That was probably the best match I wrestled all day.”
Miller has had plenty of good days this season — he is unbeaten on the mat, and an academic all-state performer in the classroom.
Miller was a standout at 182 pounds last year. This season, added strength and size has given him even more of an advantage against wrestlers at 220 pounds.
“He’s always been, I feel, higher than everybody else skill-set-wise,” Ledford said of Miller. He said the Kat junior has gotten “better in everything. There’s not a specific thing he’s gotten better at, just as a whole wrestler he’s definitely surpassed other people.”