"Historical Day in Historical Town"
At The Top, Gettysburg Invitational May Be The Highest Quality 5k in State History

(originally posted on penntrackxc.com and at this link: http://www.milesplit.com/article/6163)

By Don Rich

Historical day in a historical town as Gettysburg offers best top 3 prep 5K in state history.

In a town that knows a lot about history, Craig Miller, Vince McNally and Brad Miller made some of their own at the Gettysburg Invitational. The Varsity Group One race could arguably be recorded as the fastest prep 5k in Pennsylvania history.

First the facts, and then the perspective...

A cool, light fog had greeted the runners as they arrived, and it didn't dissipate until late in the morning. "A nice day for running, but not a picnic" is how Craig Miller put it.

It was comfortable, but not humid. Seeing the conditions, some had predicted a fast race. There was even mention of a sub-15 5K. But no, not this early in the season. That's something for late season. Yet unknown to anyone, that's exactly what Craig Miller had in mind. He had won here each of the previous three years, and the conditions were perfect. And he felt stronger than ever. In fact, he had nearly doubled his summer mileage from 20-25 a week to 40-45 a week, with one day of rest instead of three or four.

But even with his talent, logic said he would need some help. And he got it... from twin brother Brad and an incredibly talented sophomore named Vince McNally of Conestoga Valley. McNally too had increased his mileage over the summer (175 to 330), and he wanted to see a fast early time to help him build confidence for the season. Earlier in the week, he had reached one season goal by beating Brad for the first time when they raced a league meet at the Manheim Township course, finishing 14 seconds behind Craig.

This race set up fast. The beginning trail section was dry. The weather nearly perfect. And private goals made the lead pack push.
Craig, Brad, Vince, Curtis Bixler of Cumberland Valley, Aaron Kauffman of Red Land, and Bryan Beegle of Gettysburg within five meters, came through the mile at 4:48-4:50. At this point, McNally was just a bit off the other four. "I knew I had beaten Brad on Tuesday and I couldn't let him get too far ahead of me." He rejoined the two, and stayed with them through a 9:38 two-mile. "I haven't even run two miles that fast in track."

The three were off to the final 1.1, and McNally wasn't fading. Craig knew McNally was there the whole race, "...but as long as he didn't pass me, I would be fine and then out-kick him in the end."

The two were stride-for-stride coming around the final corner.

McNally thought they only had a hundred yards or so when Craig hit the pedal. It was more like 200, and when Miller opened it up, so did the gap.

"When I actually had 100 yards left I started hitting the wall. As I had come around the corner and saw 14:31 on the clock, I said 'this is crazy'."

Craig didn't leave anything to chance, and achieved his goal, a sub-15... 14:56 to be precise. McNally hung on for 15:02, while Brad Miller set a PR as well, running 15:19. Craig broke his own course record by 33 seconds, while Brad was 13 seconds better than his previous best. In all, the six runners in the lead at the mile, were the under 16 minutes at the finish. Beegle's 15:50 set a Gettysburg school record.

Both Craig and Vince credited each other for the special performances. Miller was happy both Brad and McNally were there.
"He's a real good runner. I don't know if I would have gone that fast if he wasn't behind me. Now I know Leagues, Districts and States are going to be hard races."

As for McNally, he knows the Millers are special talents, and that his 1:07 PR - yes, you read correctly, 1:07 PR - came thanks to Craig. "He was the racemaker. He led the whole way. I guess we helped each other, but he's the guy that determined what the race would be today."

McNally is also philosophical about the Millers running in the same league.
"I came along at the wrong time. But without them, it just wouldn't be the same. It's taking me to the next level." That next level, he hopes, will be a top five finish at States. He'll start basketball practice after that, and will wait for his junior or senior year to give Foot Lockers a try. "Our training this year is geared for States. Plus, basketball gives me a nice break before outdoor."

For perspective, only one PA runner has gone sub-15 on a known 5K course. That was by Grove City's Mike McWilliams in 1989 when he posted a 14:59 at Lehigh. McWilliams won two state XC titles, three 3200 meter titles and was a multi all-American at Notre Dame.

Craig is setting his sites on winning the Northeast Foot Locker title after qualifying as a junior, and then "top three to five at Nationals." That is, of course, after trying to claim his third consecutive PIAA AAA state XC title, and hopefully leading his Northeast US#4 team to their first state title in anything... "except if you count the 1971 Rifle team championship."

Miller may commit on college early, but has only one visit under his belt...and that was last weekend to Arizona State. He visits Wisconsin this weekend, and also has Oregon, Louisville and Villanova on his current top five list.


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