Athlete of the Week: Miller makes most of time on mat

Myrtle Beach High senior wrestler Daniel Miller has come a long way on the wrestling mat since picking up the sport for the first time just four years ago.

Now the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week hopes to cap his senior season with a Class 3-A individual state championship when the tournament gets under way next week.

“A state title is definitely on my wish list,” said Miller, who is ranked No. 3 in the state in the 152-pound division. “The season has been great and I’ve had a lot of tough matches. It’s my last chance so I want to finish on top.”

Growing up in Sanford, NC, Miller didn’t take the mat for the first time until his freshman year, a late start for someone in contention for a state championship. Seventh and eighth graders were allowed to compete for their high school squads in NC like they do in SC, but Miller was busy trying his hand at other sports anyway.

“A better question might be which sports didn’t I play,” Miller joked. “Football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, ping-pong. My parents were very supportive and wanted me to try different things, and I’ve always been real competitive so I loved playing everything.”

Miller tried out for wrestling as a freshman and learned the ropes, but it wasn’t until he transferred to Myrtle Beach when things really started to take off for him. By the end of the season, Miller had qualified for states in just his second year in the sport.

“When I came to Myrtle Beach we had a lot of good guys and coaches who worked with me, and that’s when I really started to improve,” he recalled. “I had to wrestle a senior for my spot and I gained so much confidence from it, and confidence is huge in wrestling. If you don’t go out there expecting to win, you’re not going to last long.”

That hasn’t been an issue for Miller, who is 30-4 with 23 pins and two technical falls in his senior year. He was named to the SC North-South All-Star wrestling event next month in North Myrtle Beach, giving him one last chance to compete in the sport he loves near his home.

“The thing I love most about wrestling is it’s all about you,” he said. “If you lose, it’s your fault. There’s no one else to blame. There’s a lot of personal responsibility and that’s what makes it so rewarding. And once you start winning you just want it more.”

Miller will soon have to find another outlet for his competitive side in order to pursue his next goal. Despite receiving some interest from small college wrestling programs, Miller has already decided to study pre-med biology at the University of South Carolina before becoming an opthamologist.

“I’ve been playing sports all my life and I’ll probably still play intramural sports just for fun,” said Miller, who maintains an A/B average at Myrtle Beach. “But I really want to buckle down on my studies and get into to med school.”

If he spends the next four years tackling the books the same way he tackled wrestling for the past four seasons, we’ll be talking to Dr. Miller some day.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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