Kiski Area freshman Eliza Miller running with the elite

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Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 4:29 PM


Eliza Miller ran a time of 19 minutes, 24.1 seconds to place first in the girls varsity race at the season-opening Kiski Cavalier Invitational cross country meet Sept. 18 at Northmoreland Park.

“I went sub-20 in my first race, and that got me really excited for the rest of the season and how much I could improve my times,” the Kiski Area freshman standout said.

Miller didn’t slow down from there. At the Division I, Section 4 championship meet back at Northmoreland Park, she tied the course record with a time of 19:22.5 and helped the Cavaliers take third behind champion Oakland Catholic and Fox Chapel.

“I kind of knew what the (course record) was,” Miller said. “When I was running, I felt good and really wanted to go for it. When I finished, someone told me I had tied it. That was pretty exciting.”

The anticipation and expectations were high as Miller entered her first varsity season. She ran a dozen or more miles a week during her peak training this summer.

Now, after several high-profile events and finishes, her focus is on the top remaining races against the best of the WPIAL and some of the best in the state.

“She has a really great perspective,” Kiski Area cross country coach Tom Berzonsky said. “For her, it’s about running her best and doing what she can to help the team. We talked a lot about what she could accomplish coming in as she went out to compete.”

Miller again tested herself Thursday at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships at Westmoreland County Community College.

In her first race on the WCCC course, Miller found herself in a battle with Corinn Brewer, a junior at Greensburg Central Catholic.

Miller led for most of the race, but Brewer rallied at the end to claim her third county title with a time of 19:07.1. Miller placed second in a season-best 19:13.6, 50 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Natalie DiCriscio from Greensburg Salem.

“It was great to be able to go out there and race someone like (Brewer) and push myself really hard,” Miller said. “I knew her times and had seen how she did in previous years.”

Miller figures to challenge Megan Aller’s school record of 19:04 set in 2015.

Sandra Smith, the WPIAL Class AAA runner-up as a senior in 1996, is second on the list with a 19:10.99. Miller now is third.

“I’ve been dropping time in all my races, so I definitely think I can get that record,” Miller said.

The Kiski Area cross country teams will run at Thursday’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association meet at White Oak Park in White Oak and then return to White Oak Park for the WPIAL championships on Oct. 28-29.

The winning team and the top 10 individuals not on the winning team will qualify for states, set for Nov. 7 in Hershey.

“Eliza’s done so well so far, and we can’t wait to see what she is able to do in the big meets coming up,” Berzonsky said.

Miller said she appreciates her teammates and how they’ve helped her transition to the varsity level.

“They make it such a great environment and are so supportive,” she said. “They don’t care that I am younger, and I am right up there with them. We’re all running to get better and help make each other better.”

In addition to her running prowess, Miller also has made a name for herself in the swimming pool.

A member of the Pittsburgh Elite Aquatic Club based at Upper St. Clair, Miller earned three top-five finishes, including two seconds, at the Allegheny Mountain Junior Olympic Championships in early March.

Miller said she has gotten into the pool a couple of times this fall to prepare for what she hopes is both her club season and her first high school season. But her main concentration right now, she said, is on her running.

“Each sport really helps me be ready for the other with keeping up my cardio and strength,” Miller said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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