Miller Overcomes Injuries for Final Championship Run
MOUNT PLEASANT - In 2005, head coach Tom Borrelli knew he recruited the right guy in Mike Miller to wrestle for Mid-American Conference powerhouse Central Michigan University.
After Miller had just won his third state championship as a senior he came up to Borrelli in the stands asking him what he had to work on to be a good college wrestler.
"Not too many kids are like that, usually they're running around celebrating," Borrelli said.*
Five years later Miller has become a two-time All-American, NCAA finalist and two-time MAC champion, but with all that said he has had to pay the price.
Following a 2007 season where he was named MAC Freshman of the Year and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships, Miller took a year off as an Olympic redshirt. He returned in 2009 and, fully healthy, advanced to the national finals at 174 pounds.
Since then the past two seasons he has dealt with two shoulder separations, one of which required off-season surgery before the 2010-11 season, and knee and rib injuries. Yet the thought about quitting never crossed his mind.
"It is a testament about how much he likes the sport. A lot of people would have given up, but I don't think he can give it up," Borrelli said. "When he is healthy he is a leader who leads by example."
His quiet leadership role speaks to Miller's personality. He is not an outgoing guy by any means. Miller likes to do things behind the scenes when it comes to the work habits of the sport.
"He has always been very good with the younger athletes as far as helping them develop and bringing them along while being a good workout partner at the same time," Borrelli said.
Through his leadership and willingness to sacrifice, Miller has given his teammates opportunities to succeed. He has changed weight classes each of his four seasons competing for CMU, primarily to allow teammates to compete at the weights best suited for them. An All-American at 165 pounds in 2007 and 174 pounds in 2009, Miller moved up to 184 pounds last season before dropping back to the 165-pound class for his senior season.*
"In my mind he is the ultimate team player physically. He has always done what we ask him to do from a weight class standpoint and was never selfish," Borrelli said.
Miller has one more opportunity this weekend to further his legacy at CMU. Despite wrestling in just eight matches this season, Miller will compete in the MAC Championships with a fourth straight bid to the NCAA Championships on the line. Miller must win the 165-pound bracket at the conference tournament in order to cap his career with a final trip to the national tournament.
With all he has already overcome in his career, it should surprise no one if Miller ends his collegiate career where he began it: on the medal stand during the postseason.