By Rob Kiser - Piqua Daily Call
TROY — Sometimes, being a champion is not about winning.
And several Covington athletes epitomized the definition of a champion Friday night at the Troy D-III regional track and field meet.
After suffering what most would have considered a devastating fall in the first race of the night, senior Ben Miller responded with two of his best performances ever - especially given the circumstances.
Miller - predicted to finish high on the podium in the 110 hurdles at state - was leading the regional race comfortably with two hurdles to clear when he stumbled and fell, unable to finish the race.
"That was a heartbreaker, that is for sure," Miller said.
So, how did he respond?
He ran his best leg of the 4x100 relay a short time later and had Covington in first place. He teamed with Ethan Herron, Shane Straw and Brandon Magee for a second-place finish in 44.12 to earn a berth in the state meet and followed it up with a gutty third-place finish in the 300 hurdles in 40.09 to earn a second trip to state.
For Miller, maybe the best thing was getting right back on the track and having three teammates to run for.
"I had to do it for those guys," Miller said. "I didn't want to let them down. We really wanted to get to state."
His teammates were appreciative.
"It was tough to watch what happened to Ben (Miller) in the hurdles," Magee said. "He came back and just run an unbelievable leg."
And Magee said Covington is you can't just judge a relay team by looks.
"That is one of the things we were saying in the prelims," Magee said. "That all these other teams look fast. We never expected this at the beginning of the year. We are kind of misfits — tall, short. It is great to be going back to state and I am really happy for those two (pointing to Shane Straw and Ethan Herron)."
In the 3200, senior Nathan Dunn ran a great time of 9:49.75, but had to settle for sixth.
In the 1,600, Covington senior Alex Schilling had the courage to run at a pace that would get him to state.
And he was in third just a few yards from the finish line, before his body betrayed him as he collapsed on the track and crawled across the finish line in ninth.
Not unlike Miller, a perfect example of what a champion really is - where he finished didn't take away from that.
For the Covington girls, senior Heidi Cron has been an inspiration for Covington athletic team's for the past four years. So, it is seems only fitting that she would finish her career at the state meet.
Just don't ask her to tell you where you finished after the race.
Cron teamed with freshmen Shae Robinson, Tori Lyle and Breanna Kimmel for a fourth-place finish in the 800 relay in a school record time of 1:47.77.
When Cron looked at the board after the race, she didn't see see Covington in the top four and relayed the apparent bad news to her teammates.
"I was actually looking at the lane assignments for the next race," Cron said with a laugh. "That was stupid. I guess just don't trust me any more girls."
But, there was no downplaying what the Lady Buccs accomplished.
"It is pretty exciting," Cron said. "I thought a lot about that (getting to state)."
Kimmel was running neck-and-neck with Anna, edging the Rockets at the finish line. The Lady Rockets were later disqualified.
"All I know is I saw this long shadow behind me," Kimmel said with a smile.
The school record was another big goal as it has stood since 1982.
"I think it is something like 33 years old," Cron said.
"This is some pretty wild stuff," she said.
What's also wild is the same four girls took eighth in the 4x400 meter relay in a season's best time of 4:11.65.
Carly Shell had a major comeback throughout the year after suffering from some unfortunate injuries last year as a sophomore.
And the junior was hoping to get back to state after qualifying as a freshman, but came up just three seconds short in a very tight race in the 1600 meter run. Shell settled for sixth, but way she came back from last year's frustration epitomizes the definition of a champion.