Boyertown's Jacob Miller is bruised, battered but persevering heading into PIAA Championships

by Jeff Stover, Pottstown Mercury

Posted on March 7, 2019

Article originally appeared here:

His injury report could effectively fill out a medical journal.

Jacob Miller has endured a slew of ailments during his season with the Boyertown wrestling team. Four injuries - two of them to the same body part - have dogged the Bears' star upper weight recently, having him sidelined for four matches and three weeks of practice.

But they haven't curtailed Miller's quest to close out the stretch run of his scholastic mat career. If anything, they've steeled his resolve heading to this weekend's PIAA Championship Tournament at Hershey's Giant Center.

"I trust the plan and am working to get healthy again," Miller said prior to his team's practice at the Bear Training Center Tuesday. "I'm practicing at the highest level and keeping on a positive note."

The first injury was a meniscus tear in his right knee. Miller noted how he got tipped in a match, and his knee collapsed.

"It wasn't a complete tear," he said. "I was told if I went easy with it, I'd be fine."

Then over the winter holiday break, Miller was working out with former Boyertown teammate Gregg Harvey. The 2016 grad, a PIAA medalist currently listed as a redshirt sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, took Jacob to the mat in such a way as to break his nose.

"It was bleeding pretty much," he recalled. "When Gregg saw it, he apologized."
That injury, in itself, was protected by Miller wearing a "half mask" that covered the top part of his face but left the lower part open.

He wasn't as fortunate when Boyertown took part in the Governor Miffin Holiday Tournament at the end of December. While the Bears were team champions, Miller sustained a second break of his nose in the 195-pound gold-medal bout and was forced to default to State College's Cole Urbas ...that after scoring two pins and a major decision in earlier bouts.

"The kid hit me with two legs and pulled my arms out," Jacob explained. "I fell straight on my face."

This injury came with more serious consequences. Miller underwent surgery for a blood clot in his nose two days before the Bears' Jan. 9 dual with Owen J. Roberts - "The doctors said if I didn't get it fixed, there could be problems," he said. Miller was back in Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment of cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection marked by a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch.

"I was in the hospital for 24 hours," Miller said. "I got out of the hospital in time for our dual with Spring-Ford (Jan. 16), but didn't practice for two weeks."

The run of injuries was capped by Miller sustaining a hyperextended elbow during the District 1-AAA North tournament the last weekend in February. That didn't prevent him from finishing second after a 2-1 ultimate top-bottom duel with Great Valley's Ethan Seeley.

"He's a bruiser, or bruised," Boyertown head coach Dave Jones said jokingly.

All the complications haven't derailed Miller's season, however. He goes into the state tourney with a 36-6 record and a South East AAA Regional title secured in a rematch with Seeley. The sequel saw Jacob score a 3-1 sudden-victory decision that ended Seeley's unbeaten run through the regular season and into the postseason.

"The doctors keep saying there's nothing serious," Miller said. "It's a matter of how much pain I can take.
"The main thing is getting over the mental barriers, telling myself I can do it."

Through it all, Miller has been supported and encouraged by his parents, Edward and Stacey, and older sister Karlynn.

"My parents are very proud of my athletic accomplishments," Miller said. "As long as I don't get seriously hurt."
He noted how Karlynn, a multi-sport athlete at Boyertown in her day, helped him address the mental aspect of his injury issues.

"She's not as injury prone," Miller said. "She helped more with the mental side."

He is also appreciative of the support of his teammates through the ordeal. Three of them - Julien Maldonado (106), Brett Breidor (152), Evan Mortimer (160) - will comprise the rest of Boyertown's state-bound contingent.

"I probably wouldn't have gotten through this without them," Miller said. "They kept telling me I would be back, and to not let this define my season. They worked hard with me in practice to help me achieve my goals."

Reaching the Giant Center medal podium, after last year's 1-2 visit, is a definite focus of Miller's. He will be going to Misericordia University to play lacrosse for the Cougars' Division III program, which means he's on the home stretch of his scholastic mat career.

"I'm going full steam into the weekend," Jacob said. "Once it's over, I'll be really sad but happy. I am going to give it my all, with no regrets."

As one of the two area wrestlers to score regional championships, Miller will wait to find out his opponent in the opening round of the Class AAA competition.

He will face the winner of the preliminary-round bout between Quakertown senior Max Russell (27-13, SE-5) and Northampton senior Jayden Bortz (32-12, NE-3).

The other local regional champ, Joey Milano of Spring-Ford, will open against Trinity's Cole Whitmer (35-3, SW-3). The Rams' sophomore 182-pounder (42-2) is steaming through his first extended postseason after an injury halted his freshman campaign at the Pioneer Athletic Conference tourney.

Three Owen J. Roberts wrestlers will also open the weekend in the first round. Antonio Petrucelli, the South East runner-up at 138 (40-8), will face Central Dauphin's Tye Weathersby (32-12, SC-3); Daniel Mancini, third place at 152 (33-3), squares off against Thomas Jefferson's Alex Weber (38-3, SW-2); and Connor Quinn, third at 160 (22-2), takes on Gettysburg's Dylan Reinert (43-3, SC-2). A fourth, Ricky McCutchen (36-14, SE-5) starts out with Easton's Isaiah Reinert (26-12, NE-4).

For Boyertown, Maldonado (35-13, SE-3) goes against Dover's Mason Leiphart (35-3, SC-2) in the first round. Breidor (33-14, SE-5) opens at 152 against Susquehannock's Colby Romjue (29-2, SC-3), and Mortimer faces Easton,'s Gaven Krazer (26-12, NE-4) at 160 in the qualifying round.

Spring-Ford has three other state qualifiers in Shane Reynolds, Jack McGill and Chase Smith. Reynolds (33-12, SE-4) goes against Greater Latrobe's Marino Angelicchio (33-9, SW-4), McGill (39-7, SE-3) takes on Armbridge's Daniel Yetsick (33-5, SC-4) and Smith (23-10, SE-4) duels Spring Grove's Anthony Hinson (33-3, SC-3).

Methacton will be represented at states by Kibwe McNair and Tonee' Ellis. McNair (30-5, SE-4) faces Bellefonte's Cole Stewart (31-11, NW-3) in the qualifying round, as does Ellis (21-4, SE-3) against Nazareth's Steven Schott (43-7, NE-4).

Daniel Boone has one state qualifier in Gavin Richard, a freshman 113-pounder (27-4, SC-4) who goes against Franklin Regional's Finn Solomon (36-7, SW-3).

Class AA >> He's struck gold at every other level of Pennsylvania's high-school wrestling post-season ... in some instances, twice.

Now, Ryan Vulakh will be looking to cap his final scholastic campaign by reaching the PIAA's pinnacle.
The Pope John Paul II senior leads a trio of Golden Panther grapplers to Hershey for the Class AA championships at the Giant Center. His younger brother, Matt, and classmate Jack Files will also be looking for medals out of the three-day competition starting 9 a.m. Thursday.

Ryan (31-) is coming off a dominating run through the 152-pound bracket at Wilson-West Lawn. He will open against the winner of the 152-pound qualifying bout between Phillipsburg Osceola sophomore Hunter Wetoish (28-9, SW-5) and Conneault Area senior Brendan Laird (37-12, SW-4) in a bid to improve on last year's third-place showing at states in the Class AAA bracket.

Matt (24-9), SE-4) starts off against Mount Union sophomore Bryce Beatty (35-7, SW-6) in the 106-pound qualifying round. He was a AAA medalist last winter, placing eighth at 106.
Files (23-10, SE-5) starts off his first state-level tourney with Coudersport senior Elijah Ayers (31-5, NW-4) in a 195 qualifier, coming off a fifth-place finish at the South East AAA Regional.

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