Kiski Area’s Darren Miller named Valley News Dispatch Wrestler of the Year
Saturday, March 30, 2019 | 4:53 PM
Darren Miller grew up admiring Matt McCutcheon’s wrestling accomplishments at Kiski Area. He’ll graduate after matching and breaking some of those achievements.
Miller had a season for the Kiski Area record books, beating Franklin Regional’s Colton Camacho by a one-point decision in the 126-pound PIAA Class AAA championship match in Hershey to join McCutcheon (2012) and Isaac Reid (2018) as the only individual state champions in school history. Along the way, Miller also broke Noah Levett’s school record for career victories, a record McCutcheon once held.
A starter from the first match of his freshman season, Miller finished his career 164-23 and helped Kiski Area win three consecutive WPIAL team championships from 2017-19. He’ll wrestle next season at Bucknell.
“Darren’s the kind of guy that has done everything right,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “I mean, he does the extra. He’s good in the classroom, he’ll help out and coach some of the little kids. He does things with younger guys in our program, peer coach a little bit. He just does all the right stuff.”
Miller already might be a role model the way McCutcheon was. And like McCutcheon, Miller is the pick for the Valley News Dispatch’s Wrestler of the Year award.
Has winning a state title sunk in yet?
Yeah, it has. But even after (the state championship) I was able to wrestle in the (Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic), and then I just started up practicing again this week. I’m definitely getting ready for college, but my club team (Quest) is looking at Virginia Beach Duals, and I’ve got to be prepared for those.
How did you celebrate winning the championship?
We were with our team, and it was the four of us (Miller, senior Cam Connor and juniors Jack Blumer and Nick Delp) and our coaches. We went out to dinner, got some dinner and dessert, went back to the hotel. The guys, we were just up for a while playing video games. Then we had a long car ride home the next morning.
Where’d you go for dinner? What’d you get?
We went to Applebee’s. I got a nice, big juicy hamburger with some fries and ice cream for dessert.
What’s the status of the 5-pound Hershey’s bars you had with you?
I already killed one 5-pound chocolate bar and almost ate a full second one.
Did you eat it yourself?
I’ve been sharing it, but I definitely had a good part in it.
What was the top moment of your Kiski Area career?
I would definitely say winning the state title. It was just the highlight of my career in general. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, couldn’t have asked for better coaches or teammates. It was amazing.
What did it mean to have your teammates in Hershey for that moment?
It was amazing. As soon as I got off the mat I ran over to them. They were all giving me high-fives, hugging me. It was definitely a great team.
What was it like being a part of the Kiski wrestling team?
The team was like a family. It was a brotherhood between us. We always pushed one another. We were able to push each other far enough to have the team be successful.
How is it wrestling in the room?
The room’s always tough. You’re always going to be practicing hard, but you’ll hear some jokes here and there across the room.
Who’s the toughest wrestler you faced?
One of them would have to be (North Hills’) Sam Hillegas. He’s just an animal. Wrestling him in the Powerade finals, (he’s a) hammer on top. You don’t want to be stuck down there too long. I know him pretty well, and he’s a nice kid, too.
Did you get to see the NCAA wrestling tournament at PPG Paints Arena?
I didn’t get to go. I was watching the results, and I watched all the finals. They were crazy.
What was your favorite match?
I liked (Oklahoma State’s) Daton Fix and (Rutgers’) Nick Suriano’s (in the 133-pound final). There was a few controversial calls during the middle of the match and at the end. I don’t know, I left it up to the refs. (Suriano won in overtime).
Did you look up to any wrestlers?
I know Mouse, Matt McCutcheon, pretty well. He used to wrestle at Kiski. I used to always look up to him because he was wrestling. He was an animal, he was a state champion before I got up to high school. I would always look up to him. Then when he got up to the college level (at Penn State), wrestling at the best school and winning national titles, I would look up to him.
What’s it like to have your name with his?
It’s just an amazing feeling knowing that I can be at the same level or higher than these guys. It’s definitely all due to hard work and my coaches, teammates and family.
If you wrestled Colton Camacho 10 times, how many would you win?
Well, we wrestled four and he won one, so I’d say I’d win 75 percent. I’d say probably around seven.
Would they all be close?
For sure. He’s a tough opponent, and it’s always a battle between us. It can go either way.
If you didn’t have to worry about making weight, what would you eat?
My go-to is some french fries and ice cream. Top food choices.
At the same time?
I like them separate and together. I’ll eat them any time. Besides season, because I know I’ll eat them too much.
Any specific types?
My favorite fries are homemade (straight fries). And ice cream, I like every kind, but my favorite place to go is probably Dairy Queen.
If anyone on Kiski was most likely to be a pro wrestler, who would it be?
It’s kind of tough. I might have to say Jack Blumer. He’s just a little goofy. I could see him doing some type of stuff like that.
If there was a Kiski Area Royal Rumble, who wins?
I’ve got to think long and hard about this one. (Pause.). I might have to say Cam (Connor). He’s real tough.
How would you do?
I feel like I could make it through a little bit. I definitely, if I was making it through, I’d go to the heavyweights last. Hopefully, they’d take each other out and get tired.
Do you know what you’re majoring in at Bucknell?
I’m definitely going to be going for engineering. I’ve got a few different kinds on my mind. Not quite sure. I have a while.
What are you looking forward to the most about going to Bucknell?
I’ll get to see (former teammate) Noah (Levett) again. I’ll get to see (Belle Vernon graduate) Zach Hartman, get to meet new people. It’s a great education up there.
Kiski Area, jr., 160 pounds
2018-19 record: 46-4
Blumer won a second consecutive WPIAL Class AAA championship and followed it up with his first PIAA medal, a third-place finish in Hershey. He set school’s single-season record with 34 pins.
Plum, fr., 106 pounds
2018-19 record: 30-6
Freshman burst onto the scene with a title at the Eastern Area tournament and kept it going. He had runner-up finishes at the Allegheny County and Section 1-AAA tournaments, qualifying for WPIALs.
Kiski Area, sr., 152 pounds
2018-19 record: 49-3
Penn recruit had dominant season, winning his second straight WPIAL title and finishing second in the state. He led Cavaliers in wins and was second in pins (32). He had 162 career victories, second in school history.
Burrell, so., 138 pounds
2018-19 record: 37-12
Corrado nailed down a second straight PIAA medal, finishing fifth in Hershey after taking seventh in 2018. He was WPIAL runner-up, won a second section title and helped Burrell win its 13th consecutive WPIAL title.
Kiski Area, jr., 170 pounds
2018-19 record: 44-8
Delp earned his way onto the medal stand at the PIAA tournament with an eighth-place finish. Before that he won his second consecutive Section 1-AAA title and finished third in the WPIAL. He had 27 pins.
Burrell, sr., 132 pounds
2018-19 record: 22-11
Despite battling injuries, Gaul helped Burrell extend its WPIAL-record title streak. He finished second in Section 3-AA and fourth in the WPIAL and came within one win of making it to the state tournament.
Kiski Area, so., 120 pounds
2018-19 record: 32-13
Sophomore came up just shy of making a trip to Hershey for the PIAA championships. He finished third at both the Westmoreland County and Section 1-AAA championships.
Valley, sr., 170 pounds
2018-19 record: 29-9
Senior’s best season ended with a fifth-place PIAA medal after a strong run in the state tournament. Hutcherson won his first section title and finished second in the WPIAL and fourth in the region.
Burrell, sr., 160 pounds
2018-19 record: 40-15
Despite a nagging late-season ankle injury, Mele got to Hershey and claimed a medal with an eighth-place finish. He was runner-up in the county and section and finished sixth in the WPIAL and region.
Kiski Area, fr., 145 pounds
2018-19 record: 29-13
Jumping right into the Kiski Area lineup as a freshman, Morlacci’s strong campaign included a runner-up finish at the Westmoreland County tournament and third place in Section 1-AAA.
Burrell, so., 120 pounds
2018-19 record: 48-4
Sophomore continued the hot start to his high school career by winning his second WPIAL championship and earning his first regional title. He finished fifth at the state tournament for his second PIAA medal.
Kiski Area, so., 195 pounds
2018-19 record: 35-8
A 2018 state junior high champion, Roscosky made a big impact in his first varsity season. He won county and section championships and finished fourth at Powerade.
Burrell, fr., 113 pounds
2018-19 record: 29-10
The newcomer from Plum made a sizable impact on Burrell’s roster, helping the Bucs win the WPIAL. He had a strong individual campaign, finishing as section and WPIAL runner-up and qualifying for regionals.
Valley, sr., 285 pounds
2018-19 record: 30-4
Schuffert capped his high school career with a third consecutive Section 3-AA title and WPIAL runner-up finish before an injury forced the returning state medalist to cut his season short.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
More High School Sports• Decade’s best WPIAL finals: Softball No. 6
• Ligonier Valley sending 11 players into college football
• PIAA in ‘holding pattern’ waiting for more information from governor
• Senior Spotlight: Denied shot at 3-peat, Brownsville state champ moving on to NC State
• Miniature Wash High gym showcases ‘underground hobby’ of paper stadiums