Scott Milling was already trading in his high-tops and cleats for racing flats and short-shorts before commencing his freshman year of high school.
“In grade school and middle school, I was really into baseball and basketball,” said the Cubbies fan. “I just did cross country and track because a lot of kids in my school did it.”
He knew it was time to shift his focus to cross country and track after hearing his brother’s enthusiastic reviews about the head running coach at York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. That coach is none other than the legendary Joe Newton, who may be one of the greatest coaches in the history of American sports. His twenty-seven Illinois State cross country titles and single track state titles are proof that he has built a program with a winning environment.
Says Milling: “Elmhurst, thanks to Mr. Newton, is filled with people who really enjoy running.”
Newton’s success as a coach, according to Milling, is that his model of “winning is everything” doesn’t only apply to a runner’s athletic success. At the core of the cross country program’s success is the foundation on which Newton has built up the program: turning athletes into good people first, then good runners. This philosophy is espoused in a feature-length documentary called The Long Green Line, which chronicles Newton’s life and successes.
“There is an expectation to do really well each year since we have such great success in the past,” said Milling. “But with him, it’s not just winning in the race, but being a winner in all aspects of your life.”
Milling believes that the goal for this upcoming cross country season is to bring home state title number twenty-eight to Mr. Newton. As a team, the boys of the York Cross Country team want to stand atop the podium at Nike Cross Nationals.
“We just need everybody to run their best each day,” Milling said, “and just trust each other when we toe the line. If we can do that, I think things can go very well.”
As an individual, Milling wants to score as low as he possibly can at State in order to help the team achieve their goals.
Considering Milling’s past success as a runner, he can definitely contribute to his teammates’ success as they try to bring home the gold for Newton. At the 2011 Illinois State Cross Country Championships, he posted a 14:45.00 for the three-mile, which led to a fifteenth-place finish at the meet and a new personal record for Milling. About a week later, Milling ran a season best time of 16:21.80 in the 5000-meter at Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional, placing twenty-second.
“Nike Cross Nationals is an awesome experience. It has really motivated me to continue to work hard in order to reach my goals in running,” said Milling. “When I first came to York, I was pretty immature and not very confident in myself. Since doing cross country, I would say I have a lot more confidence and believe I am a much more mature person.”
That confidence will carry Milling through his senior season of cross country and track at York High School, especially since Mr. Newton has taught him what it truly takes to be a success, both in running and in life.