Tuesday, 05 November 2019 20:54

Raider Season Recap: Miller closes 11-year XC coaching career

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Eleven-year head coach Reggie Miller holds a sign made by this year's team as he coached his final XC race last Saturday. Eleven-year head coach Reggie Miller holds a sign made by this year's team as he coached his final XC race last Saturday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Saturday’s 4A Mideast Regional cross country meet wasn’t just the Richmond Senior High School boys’ team’s final race of the year. It was also 11-year veteran head coach Reggie Miller’s final outing.

The head of the program since 2009, Miller has coached hundreds of runners, both boys and girls, and helped put Richmond’s cross country program on the map. For the first nine seasons, he ran both teams alone before seeing Shellie Wimpey and Jessica Covington take over the girls’ program the past two seasons.

Although the Raiders wouldn’t have anyone qualify for the state meet, Miller’s career came to a victorious end. Following the 3.2 mile race at Carolina Horse Park, Miller was gifted a wooden sign with his name and years of service from his team.

“Saturday was very emotional for me. I kept the tears on the inside until I got home, then the tears really came down,” Miller shared. “There is nothing like the sport of cross country. I loved the gift and it was one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten from someone. 

“I really love the parents,” he added. “They support the kids, the program and travel to every meet. I thank them for all they have done for Raider cross country.”

Miller has seen the program grow under his watch, as he brought his high school running experience to the table. He said that Saturday’s race reminded him of the 1987 state championship race, which was his final competition as a high school athlete. 

“This has been a great 11 years, from the first race until the last race,” Miller said. “The program has grown so much. I got to see (so many) student-athletes start in the ninth grade and finish as seniors. 

“I had some great runners, both boys and girls,” he continued. “I got to see the start of middle school cross country take off and it helped build up the program here at Richmond.”

With the 2019 season in the books, Miller noted this year’s seven-man squad was the smallest boys’ team he’s ever coached. Leading the team in every race was junior Carson Jordan, while senior Joey Nicholson, who is also a soccer player, was the No. 2 runner when he competed.

Rounding out the squad as the usual three and four runners were juniors Joshua Wallace and Will Thompson, along with senior Devon Tillman and freshmen Ethan McDonald and Kodie Simmons. Having such a small team brought the group closer together, Miller noted, and meant they had to rely on each other more. Miller was also glad not to have many injuries.

“Overall, we had a great season,” he said. “Two of our runners (McDonald and Simmons) were new to cross country, and with their work ethic, they will improve their times next season.

“Expectations are always high with me,” he added. “Winning the conference is always the goal. We didn’t win it this year, but I was still proud of their effort.”

Competing in a tough Sandhills Athletic Conference, Richmond took seventh place in the SAC championship run late last month. It wasn’t the finish to his career Miller was hoping for, but he said he wouldn’t want to end his cross country coaching career with any other group of runners. 

“Carson is a great runner and he has improved his time well over two minutes from last season,” Miller explained. “He is a great leader. His work ethnic is one of the best I have seen and his strength is his ability to get stronger at the end of the race.

“Will has improved his time over a minute, is a great runner and works hard in practice,” he continued. “Devon ran cross country for four years. He is one of the hardest workers you will find, he never complains, and he has improved his time every year.”

Richmond ran at Luther Britt Park twice this season, and it was the second round that Miller called the team’s best performance. He said “all meets were great,” but it was this one inparticular that impressed Miller because each runner improved his time by 30 seconds or more than the first time around.

Just because his time as the head boys’ cross country coach is over, it doesn’t mean Miller won’t still be around Richmond athletics. He’ll still serve as the head girls’ indoor track coach in the winter and the head girls’ track and field coach in the spring, which altogether makes nine months of track year round. 

“I graduate with my master’s degree in exercise science and coaching in May,” Miler closed with a smile. “I’m very excited about that. Coach Covington is a great coach and I enjoyed working with her, and she is going to do a great job running the program.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2019 21:05

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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