Ozzie Miller, a 2021 Dalton graduate, heads to study biology and statistics at Ohio Northern University and hopes to join the track team. He leaves a legacy behind at the high school, which includes track records, memorable moments on stage and a choral award.
By ARIEL STAHLER
Gazette & News sports writer
Talented on and off the track, an athlete, academic and actor secured his place in Dalton High School history at the 2021 Division III State Track and Field meet.
Ozzie Miller, who had just graduated days earlier, capped off his senior season by winning the 100-meter dash.
He was the first Dalton track and field state champion since Jake Dalessandro won the high jump in 2005.
After Miller realized he had won, he had two thoughts come to mind.
“First, I gave praise to God,” he said. “God really brought me here and it was all because of Him that I was able to do it. And then two, I was more like, ‘Well, I started it going now and my team has got to do as best as they can, as well.’ I started the momentum for that day. I was one of the first events, so now the rest of my team can keep it going.”
Miller’s win did set the tone for the rest of the day. Included in Dalton’s achievements at the state meet was the 4×100-meter relay team, which Miller was a part of, along with Adam Marthey, Dillon Horst and Jaiden Malone, that broke a record that was set in 2011.
During the 2021 season, Miller had some good luck from a DC superhero. At each meet, he wore a pair of socks embellished with Batman’s logo. Miller said he has always loved funny socks, but the Batman socks quickly turned into a good luck charm. After his success, he stuck with the same pair and joked he did not want to jinx his luck by changing socks. The socks may have held lucky powers, but Miller did not need it with his skills. Along with winning the 100- meter dash and being a member of the third-place 4×100-meter relay, Miller helped the boys track and field team win the WCAL championship, place second at districts and regionals and finish third at state. Dalton’s track and field coach Seth Sullivan commended Miller for his accomplishments.
“Ozzie is one of the fastest athletes to have ever sprinted for Dalton,” said Sullivan. “To accomplish one of these things is remarkable. To achieve all of these things is nothing short of incredible.”
One of Miller’s favorite track memories did not even happen during the season. He reflected on when he would spend summers training with Ava Martinez, Adam Marthey, Jordan Muth and Sullivan. Miller said the group would hang out, do some training on their own and have fun.
Sullivan mentioned how seriously Miller took his training.
“In my opinion, Ozzie’s greatest strength is his work ethic,” he said. “Speed takes time to develop. I like to tell the athletes that speed is like a tree. Some athletes think the expression is corny, but Ozzie is proof that it works. Ozzie would show up to every workout ready to give 100 percent.”
The senior season is always a special one for athletes, but this year had a new meaning for Miller after his junior year was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It meant a lot,” Miller said of the 2021 season. “Especially with the last season being canceled, I knew that it was going to be competition I had never seen before. It meant a lot making it to state, especially with my hamstring injury and all. It was really fun that a lot of us made it to state. It was really great just to end off my senior year being with a lot of the seniors, they even brought the whole team. It was just amazing and so much fun. It was just such a great time and I enjoyed every single bit of it.”
Coming back from the hamstring injury was a big feat for Miller. Starting in the fall of 2020, Miller felt a pain shoot through his hamstring during the deceleration period. In an attempt to keep it from interfering with the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons, he tried icing the injury and resting. Miller noted Sullivan was a big help during his recovery time. Miller’s mother also took him to a chiropractor and a specialist to make sure he was taking the right actions to heal the injury and be able to compete. The injury ultimately kept him from competing in the 200-meter dash during the indoor season, but he was able to participate in an indoor meet and make it to the state meet, where he won the 50-meter dash.
During the recent Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which took place this year, Miller tuned into both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash to see the outcome. He was impressed with Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse’s gold medal-winning performance in the 200-meter dash.
Miller also enjoyed watching Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacob win gold and U.S. sprinter Fred Kerley take silver in the 100-meter dash. Miller also was keeping an eye on another U.S. athlete.
“The person I was really looking forward to running was Trayvon Bromell because I love his testimony and his attitude when it comes to both God and sprinting,” said Miller. “Sadly, he wasn’t able to make it to the finals (in the 100-meter dash) even though, at that time, he was the fastest sprinter. He just had a bad few days.”
Miller picked up some tips on improving his sprinting by watching the Olympic athletes.
“I mostly learned that if I ever want to get to their level, it’s going to require lots of training and practice to just keep improving and keep pushing my body to the limits,” he said. “Also, I learned the handoffs definitely make or break the sprint relays.”
When talking about the importance of handoffs, Miller reflected back to a situation when he was a sophomore when some members of the relay team blundered the handoff, which cost the team a chance to move on to regionals. The Dawgs had great handoffs this past season and Miller attributed that to be a major factor in their success at the state tournament.
“Being able to see that as well in the Olympics really shows how much even a tenth of a second can affect the outcome of the race,” said Miller.
Track is not the only activity Miller excelled at during high school. He played basketball for the Dawgs, as well as competed in a speech contest. Theatre fans may also recognize Miller from his numerous roles with the Drama Dawgs. His favorite role was playing the timid and anxious Mr. Green from the production of Clue: On Stage during his junior year.
“That was probably my favorite play because everyone basically had a big role and it was fun to work with everyone,” said Miller. “My character was so much fun, with the sneezing and the surprise twist at the end. It was really fun.”
Now that he has graduated from DHS, Miller is spending the summer working. In the fall, he is planning on attending Ohio Northern University to study biology and statistics, as well as joining the track team.
Miller attended Dalton since kindergarten. His family includes parents Katie and Rich Miller; birth mother Lisa Ingram; brothers Nolan and Aaron and sister Asia.
Miller added some words of wisdom for younger students and athletes.
“Enjoy what you can,” he said. “Don’t wish for graduation and wish to be older. It’s going to come and go really quick. Just have fun. It’s going to be fine.”
Follow Ariel on Twitter @AStahlerDGKNews