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SPC's Miller will be a hard act to follow

Some would say St. Petersburg Catholic senior Wes Miller reached legendary status last year when he competed in the Class A district and region tournaments with a broken ankle, coming within one match of the state finals.

There's nothing left to doubt after Miller's stellar performance this season.

"What he did in last year's tournament was awe-inspiring," said coach Bob Damron, who is in his ninth year at SPC.

"But what he was able to do this year was pretty much a validation of the type of student-athlete he has become."

Miller (31-4), who has a 3.9 grade point average and scored 1300 on the SAT, dominated most of his competition this season. His four losses went the distance to four state finalists: two to Jesuit's Andrew Jimenez (39-6) and one each to Hernando's Mike Combs (36-1) and Venice's Brett Nelson (44-1). Even more impressive is the fact Miller has not been pinned in more than two years.

And Damron attests to the fact that "in my entire coaching career, he is the only kid to have never, and I mean never, miss a practice."

So for the better part of two years, Miller has racked up a career total of 114 wins, shattering the school record of 67.

"I had heard about Wes before I even got here," SPC freshman Spencer Van Bushkirk said. "He's amazing. It's really cool to see him in the halls and say hi to him and then to have my friends say, "Whoa, you know Wes?' "

Before Miller arrived at SPC, the Barons had never broken the top 10 in any tournament, much less make it out of districts. But in his 10th-grade year, SPC finished second in the city tournament, was district runnerup and finished seventh in the regionals.

This season, the Barons finished third at districts and ninth in regionals while advancing Miller (160 pounds) and fellow senior Scott McRoberts (189) and junior Andrew Kolonick (152) to states.

Miller, who will face Lecanto's Dustin Whitelaw (23-3), hopes to add to his legendary status with a state championship.

"At the beginning of the year, I set several goals," said Miller, who placed in the top half in four tournaments this season with SPC the smallest school in attendance.

"I wanted to go undefeated, which unfortunately I didn't accomplish. I wanted to win districts. Did that. Win regions. Did that. And win states."