Meade pole vaulters Jeff and Eric Miller have overcome life-threatening obstacles as they reach for the heights.
In yesterday's 29th Maryland National Guard Indoor Track Scholastic Games at the Fifth Regiment Armory, the identical twins again showed how high they can go.
Jeff cleared 14 feet to win the competition, and Eric vaulted 13 feet, 6 inches to take third.
They helped propel Meade to a second-place finish. The Mustangs were shooting for their third straight meet victory last night, but were edged Eleanor Roosevelt, 40-37.5. Old Mill finished third with 35 points.
In the girls portion of the meet, Central of Prince George's County won the team title.
Both of the Miller twins had traumatic times early in life, and it looked as if just leading normal lives would be a triumph.
Eric's problems developed at birth, when doctors told his parents, Randy and Judy Miller, of their son's potential to develop cerebral palsy. Jeff's nearly crippling blow came at 6, when he was struck by a car and remained unconscious for a week.
Years later, the brothers, 17, are healthy and lead the Mustangs' field attack. Meade coach Jay Cuthbert recognizes their importance to the team.
"As they go, we go," he said. "They mean quite a bit to the team. They have managed to be very consistent."
Said Jeff Miller: "We've had lots of practice. Our dad got us into the sport a long time ago, and he's helped us train."
Randy Miller once cleared 14 feet while competing for Ohio State. Jeff recently cleared 14-4, his best.
The elder Miller said it's fun watching his children jump higher than he did.
"The Lord's blessed them," he said. "Seeing them achieve what they have, after what happened in their childhoods, makes it extra sweet."
The father said he helps his sons with the technical aspects of the sport -- a point that Cuthbert says he appreciates.
"They were very well versed in vault when we got them," Cuthbert said. "Their dad does all the technical work -- I'll give him all the credit. For him, it's been a 24-hour job."
Said Cuthbert: "They push each other to get better. Right now, Jeff seems to be the better sprinter, while Eric's the better technician. They've improved a great deal since they got here, and working together and with their father, who knows how high they can go?"
Eight schools from Frederick County did not participate, according to meet director Ed Walker. He said officials from that county would not permit students to take part as a precaution against possible terrorist activity.
As many as 5 percent of the athletes scheduled to compete did not do so because of parents' fears about terrorist activity, Walker said.