Despite entering the state final as one of the top 800-meter runners in the state, Miley finished eighth in the boys 3A meet.
As an up-and-coming sophomore, Jacob Miley entered the boys 800-meter run state final in 2017 under the radar, finishing 16th in the event. This year, however, Miley, who took home gold with a personal best 1:52.54 at the Pepsi Florida Relays on March 29, entered this year's state final only a second off the top spot.
And for the first time in his career, when Miley stepped onto the track for the boys 3A 800-meter State Final on Friday, May 4, at the University of North Florida, he felt the bullseye on his back.
What did that feel like for the Matanzas junior?
"It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders," he said. "And I didn't want to mess anything up."
The moment proved too much for Miley, who said he threw up several times the night before. Miley finished in eighth place with a time of 1:56.41. The winner, Estero's Hugh Brittenham, finished with a time of 1:52.40.
"The nerves just got to me," said Miley, who was also part of a 20th-place finish in the 4x800-meter relay. "I was supposed to have a really good chance at winning. ... I just wasn't ready."
After the race, Miley immediately discussed with Pirates head coach Danny Weed what he needed to do to ensure his bid for a state championship in his final year of high school is a successful one. Weed, who stepped down as head coach of the track team on Tuesday, April 30, for an assistant position with the team, said Miley's decision is going to shock some people: Instead of playing football, where he started for the Pirates as a tight end, Miley is going to run for the Pirates' cross country team in the fall.
The decision was based on a need to improve his endurance.
"I worked hard in all of our hard workouts this year, but I definitely slacked off in some of our longer runs," Miley said. "I need to work on my stamina more, work on my distance training. I'm not taking any time off this summer. This upcoming year is going to be a big one."
And despite the disappointing — and unexpected — finish at states, Miley said he will chalk it up to added experience.
"Next year, I know what I’m going to have to do to win," he said.