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|Miller makes weight drop and attitude change to improve performance|
By Michelle Thilges USA Wrestling
Watching her then-training partner Iris Smith win the gold medal at the 2005 World Championships, Randi Miller knew she wanted to accomplish the same thing.
"When Iris won, I changed my view on wrestling," said Miller. "She has been good to me and helped me a lot. She is older than I am and has been in the program longer, so she can help me with stuff inside and outside of wrestling. She is my idol."
Miller, a USOTC resident-athlete, said all of her teammates have been behind her and her recent success at international events. Before practices, the team gets together and huddles to encourage each other to give their best effort throughout the day.
"They remind me of what I am really here for and that we are here for each other," said Miller.
2000 Olympic champion Brandon Slay is another one of Miller's idols. Miller said she has followed his career ever since she was a senior in high school. Both are natives of Texas, not previously regarded as a premier wrestling state.
"He won the gold medal in Sydney in 2000 and it felt so good to see him win," she said.
Miller said she believes she will see more success in her career after changing weight classes and wrestling at 63 kg/ 138.75 lbs. She has previously wrestled at 72 kg/ 158.5 lbs. and 67 kg/ 147.5 lbs.
Miller was the champion at the Pan American Championships, the Henri Deglane Challenge and the Clansman International last year at 147.5 lbs. This year, she also won the Guelph Open after making the weight change.
"My coaches thought I would be more successful at a lower weight class and have a lot more achievements. I am short, so this works out for me to be at this weight class," she said. "I really want to be consistent in my diet."
U.S. National Women's Coach Terry Steiner said Miller has set a goal to make the Olympic team and she will do better at 138.75 lbs.
Miller best describes herself as intense. That is the way she wrestles every match, no matter who the opponent is.
But Miller said she especially enjoys wrestling women from other countries.
"It is always fun to wrestle people you have never wrestled before," she said. "You get to try new techniques and see what other people do. It is always beneficial to train with someone from another nation. You learn a lot of new stuff. I feel when I wrestle someone from another country I have to win."
When facing Americans, Miller said she has that same fierceness, but it is more of a learning experience.
Miller has continued learning ever since she joined the wrestling team in high school. After being cut from the basketball team, Miller joined one other female on the mat. In Texas, where Miller attended high school, females are only allowed to wrestle other females.
"We got to work along side the boys but not actually practice with them," she said. "Our coach wasn't big on technical things, but he was big on working hard."
After graduating high school, Miller knew she wanted to continue her career. She chose to go to Neosho County Community College, in Chanute, Kansas, where a female wrestling program existed. And it was close to her home. She also spent a year at MacMurray College.
In 2004, Miller's life took a turn when she decided to enroll in the United States Olympic Education Center's new program for women wrestlers at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI.
Miller said her choice to stay with the program for two years made her mentally tough for competitions.
"It was a good move," said Miller. "I got to see that I had what it takes to wrestle internationally."
Miller worked hard and in August 2005 moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
"At Northern Michigan, there weren't many girls my size. When one of them got hurt, we wouldn't have anyone to wrestle around with," she said. "I felt I would have a better program of partners at the training center."
Although Miller's main focus is on wrestling, she also enjoys reading history books and watching the history channel. She was an art major in college and uses her talents in photography. Miller said a night out with her friends at a restaurant is something she also enjoys.
"If I wasn't on my diet, I would eat pasta. Lots and lots of pasta," she said.
Miller has plans to wrestle until 2012, and then join the Peace Corps, where she would like to go to Africa to help children.
"We had a recruiter come to our school and the youth outreach program sounded amazing," Miller said. "The program teaches youth in Africa about AIDS and you get to play games with the younger children."
She also aspires to be a firefighter once her wrestling career is done. Miller's father was a firefighter and she said she wants to follow in his footsteps.
Currently, Sara McMann is on the U.S. team at 138.75 lbs., and Miller is looking to challenge for her spot.
"She has started to be very consistent in the mix," said Steiner. "No matter who she wrestles, she makes them wrestle her, she doesn't wrestle them. She has really bought in to what we want to do and is improving consistently."
For now, Miller's aim is to focus on one competition at a time.
"I feel fortunate to train here with the best," said Miller. "I feel blest to be one of the few chosen to train and be prepared for competitions."