Miller chooses cross-country over volleyball, heads to semistate
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Chesnee Miller was a sixth-grader at Tippecanoe Valley Middle School when she considered trying out for the volleyball team.
Then she zigged when her friends zagged. She discovered cross-country.
“This is my fifth year running, and I’ve loved it since the day I started,” Miller said. “It makes my body feel good. It makes me feel good, and it keeps me in shape.”
And though she is only a sophomore, she is already Valley’s greatest ever girls cross-country runner.
She advanced from sectional to regional after running a 21:21 at Manchester on Oct. 9. Then, at the Culver Academy regional Saturday, on a day when most runners ran slower times as compared to their sectional times due to ankle-deep mud in certain spots, Miller got faster. She ran a 21:15 to claim the 10th and final spot among runners on non-advancing teams.
In 2007, the IHSAA lengthened girls cross-country from 4K to 5K. Miller is the first girl from Valley to advance to semistate since the girls race became 5K.
“In sixth grade, all my friends were playing volleyball, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just play volleyball,’” Miller said. “And then my mom’s best friend was a cross-country coach, and she was like, ‘Ches, just come out and run for a little bit.’ So I started running, and I haven’t stopped since.”
Miller qualified for regional last year but couldn’t run at the regional due to a quarantine. She also has made the all-Three Rivers Conference team in both of her prep years so far.
“I think it’s definitely my first mile because I get right into it,” Miller said when asked to analyze what is the best part of her race. “But in the second and third, I fall into it too, and it’s just as good.”
Miller said she has been working on her finishing kick in practice with coach Mike Inglehearn. In her workouts, she runs fast 1,000-meter intervals to
“We’ve been working on 1,000 meters,” Miller said. “So we run a lot of timed 1,000 meters. Because we measure it off in 5,000. So each thousand, he takes a time, and then we have to beat that time for the next 1,000.”
The point is running each 1,000 in practice to more approximate what a race feels like.
“So we run the first 30 minutes of practice or so and the last however many minutes of practice, we’re running thousands upon thousands,” Miller said.
Miller also plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring.
“I like how basketball has more of a team effort,” Miller said. “In track, I just like how it’s a shorter distance.”
Tippecanoe Valley’s Chesnee Miller runs at the Culver Academy regional on Oct. 16. Miller’s time of 21:15 was good enough for 19th overall and 10th among individuals on non-advancing teams, which qualified her for the New Prairie semistate. Miller is Valley’s first girls semistate qualifier since the IHSAA extended the girls race distance from 4K to 5K in 2007. The New Prairie semistate starts at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Saturday.