Although the three mats laid across the gym floor at Staley High School were different than they remembered, Ethen and Kal Miller felt right at home.
Maryland wrestling’s new sibling duo, nicknamed “Miller Time” by coach Alex Clemsen, traveled back to their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to compete in the Tiger Style Invite last weekend.
“That’s where we grew up wrestling. Districts, regionals and youth, and in high school,” Kal said. “It’s pretty cool.”
With family, friends and old teammates in attendance, both Miller brothers excelled in their return to the Midwest.
“I saw a lot of people, it was fun to wrestle back at home,” Ethen said. “It’s a pretty cool environment in front of all those people.”
Kal collected two victories en route to a first place finish in the 141-pound weight class, while No. 28 Ethen avenged an early loss to end the day 4-1, grabbing a third place finish in the 149-pound weight class.
“A lot of expectations, I think, on this young group, and especially for the Miller boys going home to Kansas City,” Clemsen said. “They looked like they handled it in stride and wrestled really tough.”
Ethen’s loss came in the semifinals to the third ranked wrestler in the 149-pound weight class, Missouri’s Brock Mauller, by a 7-4 decision.
It was a bout he once thought he would never have to do after initially committing to Missouri before flipping his commitment in September 2020 to wrestle in College Park.
“No hard feelings at all,” Ethen said. “I mean, they know I’m good … I had a pretty good match against [Mauller.]”
Ethen is already fitting in nicely at his new home. He’s already racked up seven individual bout victories this season, adding to the three he earned in Maryland’s season-opening quad-meet.
Following the loss to Mauller in the semifinals, Ethen won a consolation round bout to set up a match with Big Ten foe Kevon Davenport of Illinois for third place.
He scored a single leg takedown in the second period to enter the third period tied 2-2. In an even third period, an early escape was all he needed, staving off a last second takedown attempt from Davenport to take third place by a 3-2 decision.
“I think I got a lot of my attacks … I scored a lot of points,” Ethen said about his tournament. “I felt that I attacked and did well this weekend.”
Kal had an easy path to the final, starting his day already in the semifinals after having two byes.
But in the 141-pound final, an even bout came down to the final 20 seconds.
As the seconds ticked closer to zero in a tied third period, Kal and Brennan Van Hoecke of Little Rock locked heads in a neutral position, both seemingly waiting for the end of the period and overtime to start.
But Kal saw an opening.
He made a quick grab toward the head of his opponent. His speed surprised Van Hoecke, who dropped to the mat on both knees. The takedown for Kal was the deciding factor, as he took the bout by a 3-1 decision to clinch the 141-pound crown.
“Wrestling season, there’s a lot left, it’s still early,” Kal said. “I’m on a roll, and I’m just gonna come in here and do my thing.”