Jocelyn Miller wasn’t exactly sure where she sat as she barreled down the final stretch in the Div. III girls state cross country meet in Hebron, Ohio, on Nov. 4. All she knew was that all of the time and energy she had invested in her sport over the past four years had put her on the edge of All-Ohio status and a spot on the podium.
As she gutted out the final 100 meters, Miller gave everything she had left, every ounce of her remaining career, and despite that, Reghan Bieleski of West Liberty-Salem raced past her. That finish left Miller in 21st position, one spot away from celebrating on the podium. However, it also made her an All-Ohioan, an honor bestowed upon the top 25 runners, so it was with great joy that she finished her illustrious career.
For Miller it was both a celebration sprinkled with a bit of bittersweet.
“I really wanted to get into the top 20, and I let a girl pass me right at the end, so that was a little disappointing,” Miller said. “But I made All-Ohio, and I set my PR at the state meet, so I am going to walk away happy with it. Being in this race is an awesome way to end my career.”
That PR time was a 19:23.3, which was not too far off of a top-10 time of 19:13. The race was won by Minster’s Emma Watcke, who chased down Grand Valley’s Gracie Steimle to win by 14 seconds in 18:38.4.
Ever since her freshman year, Miller has proven that she can run. She has been an instrumental piece of some of Garaway’s best teams in school history. And while she has been strong, she has always seemed to run in the shadows of some all-time greats including sisters Rachel and Ariel Wentworth.
This year Miller finally had a chance to take on the starring role, and her entire season built up to this one final performance.
“This was really different because I didn’t have anyone in front of me this year,” Miller said. “But I really enjoyed being a leader on the team and helping the other girls. I am kind of quiet, so leading comes from a lead by example for me.”
Her coach Luke Immel said watching Miller develop into a quiet leader was one of the joys of coaching.
“She came out here and gave it everything she had, and as a coach that is all you can ask of any kid,” Immel said. “Ariel had done such a great job of working with the younger kids, and she graduated out, and someone had to fill that role, and Joc did a tremendous job of being that person.”
Oftentimes runners panic when they get to state. Miller, a veteran of three state meets, did not. The wily veteran paced herself well and ran a very patient race, planting herself about a third of the way back in the pack early on. She then began systematically picking off runners ahead of her throughout the race.
“That is my race,” Miller said. “I don’t run well when I try to get out with the front of the pack early.”