Hoffman's Miller Understands Challenges
Garofola, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Mike Garofola Daily Herald Correspondent
Mike Benefiel, Roy Feltson and Casey McMurray - wrestling's murderer's row of sorts - will all be at the Glenbard North Sectional in February competing at 171 pounds.
Danny Miller is aware of the trio's slugging percentage, but the Hoffman Estates senior went through plenty on and off the mats during his junior year, so facing off against some of the best in the state when it counts the most is exactly where he'll want to be.
Miller's ability to persevere and endure first through his mother's bout with cancer, then a knee injury and surgery, has the Hawks' top wrestler back in the fast lane and right alongside the others as the postseason nears.
The two-year starter and co-captain of the young and ever- improving Hawks posted his 30th victory of the season last weekend, three more than last year, when he went 27-13 before falling short in his bid to reach Champaign and his first trip to the state tournament.
"Earlier in the year, around Christmas, we found out my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer, then during the final couple of weeks of the season I was wrestling with torn cartilage in my knee," Miller said.
"So when I lost to Prospect's Peter Zintak (at) sectionals in the second round, I figured I would have a good chance of coming back through (wrestle-backs) because Peter would keep winning.
"But (he) lost in the semi's to Willie Brooks (Warren), and that ended my season."
Brooks and Zintak would eventually move on to the state tournament, where Zintak would medal, while Miller, following the wrestling season, would blow out his knee.
"I found out all of what happened was something that I couldn't control, and you deal with the hand that is dealt you," Miller said. "But my mom has fully recovered, I'm healthy as well, and as far as meeting up with all of that top competition if I get to the Glenbard North sectional, again, you just deal with it and do the best you can."
Barring the unexpected, Miller will battle with Chris Garcia of Palatine and David Kneisel of Barrington at the Mid-Suburban League tournament next week, then will likely earn the top seed at the Rolling Meadows regional.
Once there, Miller (30-5) has shown he will earn favored status during the seeding process following a lofty climb up the podium at two prestigious tournaments, the Moore-Prettyman and Dvorak.
Miller came back through wrestle-backs at the Moore-Prettyman to earn a third-place medal after defeating state-ranked Mike Noland (St. Rita) 8-7.
At the Dvorak, Miller was a blur on the screen in wrestle-backs, using a trio of consecutive major decisions victories to reach the third-place match, where he would drop a 1-0 decision to No. 3 John Doyle of Sandburg.
Just last weekend, Doyle dealt Miller, trying to shake the flu, just his fourth loss.
Remarkably quick and athletic for this weight class, and blessed with quick feet and natural speed, Miller uses those strengths, as well as what he describes as an unorthodox style and ability to scramble as the reasons for his success this winter.
"Guys in our weight class like that hand-to-hand combat, which I'll do, but I can surprise with low shots, too," he said.
Miller improved his lot with extensive lifting and freestyle work during the offseason, which should also help out in the spring when he looks to gain the starting third base job on the baseball team after missing last year following his knee injury.
Miller's appreciation for the arts has been put on hold after several appearances on stage for the theater program, but he hopes to return soon, or at least next fall when he'll likely attend Harper College.
Once there, Miller will focus on completing general education courses, perhaps taking an EMT class or two (he'd like to become a fireman one day) in addition to possibly joining one of the top junior college wrestling programs in the country. …