Growing up, Mike Miller lived just three blocks east of Saint Bonaventure High School, so following his brother as a Seraph was a foregone conclusion. Even during his grade school years at Assumption, Mike closely followed the Seraphs. What was not clear at the time was that Mike would go on to become one of the most accomplished athletes to ever wear the forest green and gold.
Mike entered SBHS in the fall of 1971. During his four years at SBHS, he excelled as a member of the football and track & field teams. Mike was a truly gifted athlete who possessed both great agility and uncommon speed. In football, Mike starred as a wide receiver and kick return specialist. From his freshman year on, opposing defensive backs quickly learned it was a major mistake to let Mike get a step on them because they would never catch him in the open field. His one handed catch of a punt and return for an 80 yard touchdown against Bishop Diego was a true highlight reel candidate. Following his senior year of football, Mike was named first team all-league and first team all-CIF as a wide receiver. Though Mike’s accomplishments on the football field are truly noteworthy, it was as a track and field athlete that he made his major contributions to the Seraph sports legacy.
Mike earned a varsity letter in track and field in each of the four years he attended SBHS. During his freshman year, Mike was a standout as a sprinter. In this regard he was following the path blazed by older brother, Pat (`71), who had been an accomplished sprinter when he attended SBHS. Mike competed in all the sprint events and he even ran middle distance races at times. It was as a sophomore that Mike burst onto the track scene.
As Mike tells the story, one day he was leaving the football field after a physical education class. Jim Bauer, the track coach at the time, asked Mike to remain behind. Coach Bauer directed Mike to run over a flight of low hurdles on the track. This was something Mike had never tried before. When Mike crossed the finish line he turned and walked toward Coach Bauer who was glancing down at the stopwatch in his hand. Coach Bauer looked up and smiled. He then said: “Congratulations. You are now a hurdler.”
A few weeks later in his very first hurdle event as a sophomore, Mike broke the school record in the 120 yard high hurdles. This was an especially satisfying moment for Mike because the previous record had been held by Greg Dufresne (`71), who was a good friend and future groomsman in Mike’s wedding.
As a sophomore, Mike won most of the varsity hurdle, long jump, and sprint events he entered. Though he generally competed at the varsity level, at the end of the season he finished second in the CIF frosh/soph 120 yard low hurdles. At the time this was the highest finish ever by a SBHS track and field athlete.
During his junior and senior years, Mike was a dominating force on the local track scene. He was one of the fastest sprinters in Ventura County and he was among the best hurdlers in the state. At the Tri-Valley League finals in 1974 and 1975, Mike took first in both varsity hurdle events and the long jump. He was also a member of the winning 440 yard relay team. It is quite likely Mike could have won both varsity sprint events as well, but the rules limited each athlete to no more than four events. Mike was the first SBHS track athlete to ever finish first in four events at a league meet.
As a senior, Mike was the CIF ‘AA’ champion in the 330 yard low hurdles. Mike failed to qualify in his specialty, the 120 yard high hurdles, after he clipped the first few hurdles. Though he was disappointed and frustrated by his showing in the high hurdles, Mike went on to take first in the 220 yard dash. The victories in those two races marked the first time a Seraph athlete had ever won an individual CIF championship.
Mike went on to run at the CIF Masters Meet in the low hurdles and the 220 yard dash. He was disqualified in the 220 after stepping on the curbing on the inside of lane one but he finished third in the low hurdles and thus qualified for the CIF State Finals Meet. At the State Finals, Mike finished fourth in a photo finish in the 330 yard low hurdles. His time of 37.1 seconds in that race was the tenth fastest time in the nation for that season. Mike was the first Seraph to ever compete in the Masters Meet and the State Finals. It would be many years before another SBHS athlete would ascend to this premier level of competition.
Mike Miller was one of the most accomplished individual Seraph athletes during the early years of the school. He should also be considered one of the best athletes to ever represent SBHS. During his career, he set a great many school records in track and field and he still holds a number of those records.
Following high school, Mike graduated from California State University at Los Angeles. He has spent the last 30 years as a law enforcement officer for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the Overland Park Police Department in Kansas. Mike resides in Overland Park with his wife, Patricia, and their three children, Kyle, Kaitlyn, and Christopher.
INDUCTED IN 2009
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