Marietta’s Kamari Miller saw the Georgia Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year Award as a goal he wanted to attain by the time he left high school.
It was one of many for the talented distance runner. Some of the others included helping his team win the state championship, while also winning the individual state title.
Now, Miller can say he accomplished his goals.
After leading the Blue Devils to the Class AAAAAAA title and setting a new Carrollton course record time of 15 minutes, 29 seconds in the process, Miller was awarded the Georgia Gatorade award.
The award, which recognizes excellence in the sport, but also grades and character on and off the course, identified Miller as Georgia’s best runner. He is now a finalist for the national award, which will be announced later this month.
“I was ecstatic when I found out I won,” Miller said. “It’s been a long goal of mine that I’ve wanted to earn since my freshman year.”
Miller became the first Marietta boys cross country runner to win the Gatorade award, and the first from Cobb County. Former Marietta girls standout Ellie Hall won following the 2018 season.
It is hard to imagine him having a better senior season.
Miller, a Lamp of Knowledge Medal winner in biology and a team leader on behalf of the Whisper youth group, won the state championship by nearly 38 seconds, won eight of nine meets and broke course records on four different occasions.
A personal-best of 14:37.19 to finish fifth at the RunningLane National Cross Country Championships earned him first-team All-American status. He also was named the Atlanta Track Club’s 2020 All-Metro Runner of the Year and is considered one of the top five runners in the country by multiple running platforms.
Despite the success, Miller, an honor-roll student with a 3.12 grade-point average, said there was still room for improvement, and that is why he is continuing to hone his craft so he can contribute immediately when he joins the Syracuse cross country squad later this summer.
“It was definitely a good year,” he said, “but I still felt like I could do more. My goal was to win every race this year, and there was no nationals (because of the pandemic). It was good, but I wasn’t satisfied.”
Marietta coach Jack Coleman said Miller was most deserving to win the Gatorade honor, and he said Miller is somebody who does everything necessary to make sure he can live up to those high standards.
“He’s always been driven,” Coleman said. “From early on, he wanted to be a good distance runner, and I think he sacrifices more than the average high school student to do it, from his diet to his sleep. He probably sleeps more than anybody else because he knows what it takes to take care of his body.”
Coleman also said it has been impressive to see Miller’s progression, because going from being a really good or great runner to being an elite one can be an arduous process.
“He struggled at times,” Coleman said. “He hit some plateaus, and growth doesn’t happen fast. It takes a lot more work to move his times down just a little bit.”
Miller said he is looking forward to the next phase of his career as a runner in the Atlantic Coast Conference and is preparing with the idea of contributing immediately.
“I’m working on getting stronger,” the 6-foot-3, 154-pound Miller said. “I’m also mentally getting ready for the tougher college training and competition.”