Deep breathing. Doesn’t seem like an intense process, but it is actually one of the key components to a successful high jump for junior All-American track and field star Simon Graber Miller.
On Mar. 6, Graber Miller shattered Goshen College’s previous high jump record with an incredible height of 6 feet, 8 1/8 inches. But for Graber Miller, one broken record was not enough.
The next jump placed him at 6 feet, 10 3/4 inches off of the ground, a feat that broke his own record. The jump also placed Graber Miller at the number three spot in the country and put him in the NAIA’s most elite category.
While many track and field athletes have been involved in the sport for a number of years, Graber Miller has only been involved in high jump since his senior year of high school, making his success at the collegiate level all the more impressive.
“I think it’s very cool to be All-American, and I really hope I can continue to be All-American for the rest of my track career at Goshen College,” said Graber Miller, who claimed that his coaching staff was equally responsible for his success. “It would not be possible at all without my coach, Kyle Mishler, who was also an All-American high jumper for Goshen College”
On top of the immense pressure that comes from competing at the national level, there was an added element to the intensity of the event due to fan attendance.
“The atmosphere was pretty intense, there were probably 40 to 50 people watching the high jump event near the end, which is a lot for a meet in COVID-19 times,” said Miller. “After I had cleared the previous heights, I had a ton of adrenaline and my hands were shaking uncontrollably.”
Achievements and incredible feats of agility aside, Graber Miller’s accomplishment begs the question: Just how does he do that?
According to the All-American himself, deep breathing, relaxation and a sense of control are all crucial factors that went into his approach as he recalled his record-setting leap.
“I was mainly just trying to stay calm. My coach reminded me to take some deep breaths, and approach the bar with controlled speed. I kinda have a habit of getting overexcited which can lead to clumsy and uncontrolled jumps,” Graber Miller said.
According to Graber Miller, the process of the jump begins with the approach, or the lead-up to the jump itself. If the approach is handled correctly, the jump comes at a more natural pace. Repetition becomes an essential part of training.
“Practices usually involve a lot of plyometric work, so lots of repetitive powerful jumps in a short period of time. I also do a lot of back flexibility exercises since I’m extremely inflexible.”
While Graber Miller’s athleticism and hard work has already led to an All-American selection, his next attempt to reach new heights is to move up just two short finishes, and be the best in the nation.