EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 9th chapter in a 13-part series saluting the 2020 Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame class.
JEROMESVILLE -- Jeff Miller grew up, in a farming family, in Jeromesville. Early, he learned the values of hard work, dedication, and competition. Tennis rackets, golf clubs, and ball gloves accompanied the family on most trips and outings.
Whether on the golf course at Mohican Hills, the tennis courts at Lewis Memorial Park, or the athletic fields at Hillsdale High School, a strong love of sport was a consistent presence in the Miller family.
As a freshman and sophomore, Jeff competed in football, basketball, and track and field for Hillsdale High School. However, two sports, football and track and field, quickly rose to the forefront of his focus.
Jeff began his high school career at Hillsdale in 1991. During his freshman year, he enjoyed success throwing the shot put. He finished the season finishing 4th place in the Wayne County Athletic League Championship and 7th in the Division III district meet. While a season best of 49’2 3/4” was just under his goal of 50’, it was a clear indicator that he had great potential.
As a sophomore, Jeff became a two-way starter on the football field. His success as a middle linebacker drew attention from Division I programs. Jeff finished the year setting school records for, total tackles (188), unassisted tackles (89), and longest interception return for a TD (88 yards). For the 1992 season, Jeff earned Ashland Times Gazette First Team Defense and Wayne County Athletic League First Team Defense honors.
After football, Jeff turned his attention to track and field where he found more success and college attention. In his first meet of the season Jeff broke a 15-year-old school record in the shot put, which he extended to over 54’ by the season’s end. He finished the 1993 season by winning the shot put title at the WCAL championship and earned a trip to the state meet in Columbus.
It was at that meet Jeff learned what it took to become a state champion. He finished 7th, and set his focus squarely on the state meet for his junior year.
During the 1993 football season, Jeff saw similar successes as his sophomore year earning All Wayne County, All Wayne County Athletic League, and All Ashland Times Gazette honors. Despite Jeff’s continued success on the football field, his love for throwing the shot put grew. Unlike other years, Jeff decided to forego playing basketball to focus on his strength and technique in the shot put for a return trip to Columbus in the spring.
The decision paid off as Jeff had a banner year for the Falcons. Jeff finished 2nd at the prestigious Mehock Relays, extended his own school record, and won a second straight WCAL shot put title. It was in Columbus where his work paid off. Jeff was able to improve in the finals and leap three competitors to take the 1994 Division III state title. Jeff also went on to place 5th at the USATF Junior Olympic National Championships in Syracuse.
During his senior season of football, an early shoulder injury directed the path for Jeff’s future. While he was able to finish the football season, track and field became the focus of his sports career. His primary goal was to repeat as Division III state champion. Along the journey to state, Jeff captured another silver medal at the Mehock Relays, a third straight WCAL shot put title, and extended his school record to 57’10”.
That record still stands. Jeff finished the 1995 track and field season by winning a second Division III State Title, doing so by throwing over one foot farther than the next competitor.
Jeff finished his career as a Hillsdale Falcon being recognized as a 4 year member of the National Honors Society, Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete, Ohio High School Scholar Athlete, and the Mansfield News Journal Male Athlete of the Year. Jeff also earned a track and field scholarship to the University of Cincinnati.
He enjoyed a successful college career at the University of Cincinnati (1995-2000), where he majored in Marketing and Business Management. During his collegiate career, Jeff was a three year team captain, a three-year Bearcat Scholar athlete, and a bronze medalist in the Conference USA Championship.'
He remains on the Top 10 All-Time Thrower List at the University of Cincinnati for the shot put.
Jeff credits his family for his strong work ethic, competitive nature, and desire to be the best in all aspects of life. He would like to thank them for their countless hours of support both on and off the athletic fields. Jeff would like to recognize his high school coaches Ron Allison, Jerry Miller, and Tim Sword as well as his college coaches Bill Schnier and Jim Schnur for their contribution to his athletic success.
Finally, Jeff knows that individual success comes from the effort of an entire team and would like to thank his teammates and friends along the way.
Jeff married Myia Williams in 2005. They have a daughter, Claire, and live in Wheaton, Illinois. Jeff has been with Molson Coors Beverage Company for 17 years and is currently a regional sales manager.
Sport and competition is still important in Jeff’s life. Jeff competes primarily in ultra-marathon distance running. He has top 5 finishes in numerous time based ultras, has ran over 100 miles in 24 hours, and won the 2019 USATF 100K Road National Age Group Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.
Myia is an Ironman World Championship qualifier as well a multi-year All American Triathlete. Jeff is passing on the Miller family values of hard work, dedication, and competition to Claire as she competes in swimming and softball.