City's Robert Miller was an All-Metro second-team pick in indoor track last winter as a freshman. He fared even better in the spring before spending much of the summer trying to learn technique and gain strength.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound sophomore packed on about 10 pounds of muscle and concentrated on improving his skills. The work has paid off so far, as Miller has won every race this season, including the 55-meter hurdles and the 55 and 300 meters at the Baltimore City-County Mixer on Thursday night at the Fifth Regiment Armory.
Miller, who also ran on the Knights' victorious 800 relay for a fourth victory, worked hard with weights during the break and also went to a camp at Maryland, where he learned from more experienced runners.
It's a big reason why Miller's undefeated so far this winter. But the sophomore said he's just not going to worry about winning every race.
"It's pressure on both sides," Miller said. "There's pressure when you're always losing, but there's also pressure when you're always winning. I just focus on each race."
The bad news for City opponents is that Miller seems to be getting faster.
"I think he's got another gear," City coach Craig Carter said.
A good choice
Malik Johnson had thought about trying indoor track last winter at National Academy Foundation, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He joined the team this year, and it's proved to be a good move.
Johnson, a sophomore, was a running back for the Screaming Eagles for the latter part of the 2013 football season. He wanted to run track to help increase his speed and possibly catch the eye of colleges.
So far, so good. He won his first three races in the 300 this season and finished second Thursday despite posting a personal-best time of 40.30 seconds. He also runs on the 800 and 1,600 relay teams.
"I wanted to run track last year, but I was lazier then," Johnson said with a smile. "I'm having fun now."
Johnson's also hoping to improve his speed, something that could help him in football. Indoor track's nothing like football, but the adjustment isn't a bother to Johnson.
"It's a lot different from football," he said. "You're not physical at all. But I'm a lot faster than I thought I was, and I'm having fun."
Keeping it in the family
Catonsville freshman Trinity McPherson also is running track for the first time ever. But she's got track in her blood.
Her father, James McPherson, ran at Army and had told his daughter about how indoor track could help her get in better shape for lacrosse this spring. The freshman played soccer in the fall and wanted something to do in the winter.
Right up until track practice began in mid-November, McPherson was uncertain. Finally, she decided to do it.
"I always wanted to do track," she said. "But it's a lot of [fun]. Practices are hard and meets can be kind of stressful, but I like it."
In Thursday's meet, McPherson won the 300 meters in 44.30 seconds, her best time this season. She finished second in the 55 and ran on the third leg on the first-place 800 relay.
Miller's performance helped City finish first with 110 points. McPherson also played a big role in Catonsville's victory as the Comets posted 112 points.
Baltimore City/County Mixer
(at Fifth Regiment Armory)
Boys (top 5): 1. City, 110; 2. Catonsville, 86; 3. Towson, 77; 4. NAF, 43; 5. Carver-Balt. Co, 30.
Girls (top 5): 1. Catonsville, 112; 2. Towson, 80; 3. Western, 68; 4. City, 58.5; 5. Lansdowne, 53.5