Area pair rate high in III 400

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Mineral Ridge’s Jarred Miller, left, and McDonald’s Hayden Sloan compete in the 400-meter dash at the Trumbull County meet. Miller, who won the event, and Sloan, are two of the top Division III 400 runners in the state.

Jarred Miller’s mind is willing, sometimes the body is a different story.

The same probably could be said of most 400-meter runners.

The so-called impervious barrier put up at the 300-meter mark of the race tests runners like no other. That one lap of pure sprint around the track is where the intestinal fortitude is truly tested.

“It’s painful,” Miller said. “It helps a lot with everyone cheering, pushing through and coaches screaming. It’s honestly painful. It’s the most pain I’ve ever put in my body. It hurts a lot.”

He pushed those feelings aside and relied on pure adrenaline to carry his weary body across the finish line earlier this month at the Trumbull County track and field meet.

He had McDonald’s Hayden Sloan and Howland’s George Beatty-Marsh to his left, rushing down the final 100 meters — following almost parallel to the Mineral Ridge sprinter. Miller, a junior, felt the county 400 title within his grasp as he forced each step down the track.

“Honestly, in the last 20 meters I felt like I was going to fall. I could not feel my legs at all,” said Miller, who captured the county crown.

Sloan, a senior, finished a close second. Their times were 50.50 seconds and 50.98, respectively. Beatty-Marsh was a close third (51.04).

Miller and Sloan had the second and third best times in the state following that May 4 finish at Lakeview High School. The pair are two of the better 400 runners in Division III in the state, setting up a couple of weeks that may lead to a state meet showdown in Columbus.

That drive begins this week when area track and field athletes begin district competition. Division I schools compete Wednesday and Friday at Austintown Fitch. Division III districts also are Wednesday and Friday, at Springfield High School and at Cuyahoga Heights. Area Division II teams compete Thursday and Saturday at Lakeview.

“I’ve always dreamt about it,” Sloan said. “I never thought it would be this close. The possibility it would happen would be surreal to me.”

The two are the top returning 400 runners in the region, which will be contested at Massillon Perry High School. The top four in each event there head to state.

Miller knows this all too well. He ran 50.91 and took fifth last year, while Sloan scooted ahead with a 50.70.

Mineral Ridge boys track and field coach Ron Toth always tells Miller, “Beep. Beep.”

The sound of a car horn reminds the Rams junior sprinter of last year’s regional shortcoming.

“That drives me to work harder, meet my goal,” Miller said.

Running the race is not easy. The drive to be the best quarter-mile runner in D-III takes something special, especially that last 100 meters.

“It’s like pain you never felt before,” Sloan said. “I don’t know how to describe it. You can’t feel your legs. Legs trying to stop, but you got to keep going.

“You have to keep pushing to get your best time.”