Fifth year Mechanical Engineering major Zach Miller was in the fourth grade when he knew for the first time that he wanted to run. As a kid from Lancaster, Penn., he ran a halfmile race in gym class and never looked back. “It was from that experience that I knew I could run,” Miller recalled. And he was right to say the least. From the beginning, Zach had a gift. And with that gift, his talent grew.
Twelve years later, he is now a star cross-country and track runner at RIT. He chose to come here because he felt he’d be able to run and receive a good education. Said Miller, “I really liked what the team had to offer, but I also wanted to study mechanical engineering.” The year before he enrolled, RIT went to the national championship, which certainly didn’t hurt. His biggest influences throughout his running career have been his Hempfield High School coaches: Jeff Bradley, Terry Newman and Dave Hummel. Miller also looked to teammates that were older than him to set a good example. During his senior year of high school, the cross-country team qualified for states, pushing him into a new level of competition.
Due to graduate in May, Miller looked back on his prolific collegiate career and mentioned two of his most memorable performances. The first was in 2008, his second year. He entered the 10,000-meter ECAC outdoor track event and finished with a time of 31:37 for first place, despite having little hope that he would take the victory. “That was a really good race because I came in not expecting to win, but then I ended up winning the whole thing,” recalled Miller.
Another memorable experience is the recent Empire 8 championship. Miller placed third, which is his best ever Empire 8 finish. According to Miller, the key to success was to pace himself. “I tried to go out at a good pace. I wanted to keep contact with the leaders without expending too much energy too soon. I laid low for the first mile or so and then worked my way up to the leaders,” he said. Miller’s time at the end of the performance was 26 minutes, 15 seconds — his second best time of the year.
Miller credits his training for getting him where his is now. Asked about whether or not he was satisfied with his running, he said: “I’m pretty satisfied. I’m a much stronger runner than I was in high school because I run more miles now.” When asked about how the team was doing as a whole, Miller replied: “It’s all coming together; most guys on the team have run well. Our goal is to qualify for a national championship. Our regional championship is [November 13]. If we run well enough, we can qualify for the nationals.”
What advice does Miller have for beginner-level runners who hope to follow in his footsteps? “Be consistent in your running habits. Eat well, get enough sleep, and trust your training. It will work.” Good advice; it certainly paid off for him.