Interviews

Marine Greco Star Daniel Miller On Learning From Every Available Opportunity

daniel miller, 98 kg, 2017 cism military world wrestling championships
Daniel Miller -- Photo: Steven Dinote

After finishing up his folkstyle career at the Naval Academy, Daniel Miller (98 kg) became a Marine and then he became a wrestler for the Marines. It also meant an introduction to Greco-Roman, the preeminent style in that branch of the military. Miller had been a solid collegiate competitor, but he was even sharper in freestyle, having made the 2011 US Junior World Team. But Greco, you know, it’s different, right? The discipline requires a specialized skill-set, there are adjustments to make, and the inability to just go ahead and dive at some legs, for some reason, confounds too many too often.

But progress was quickly made. Miller, originally of Berlin, Maryland, took a few lumps, though he also demonstrated a knack for knowing where his body was supposed to be, one of the earliest signs a wrestler can make the conversion. Eventually, his acumen for Greco-Roman grew and so did the number of wins. Still, the road is long, it is bumpy, and any knocks off-course can be unforgiving. The margin for error at the Senior level isn’t just slim, it’s virtually indiscernible to the human eye. Coaches sometimes don’t even know where the line begins and ends. Points in this sport come and go quickly. Control isn’t the name of the game, initiative is. Action is. So that’s what Miller started to realize. He could come forward. He could make people pay for their mistakes just as they had made him pay for his. He could assert himself.

The funny thing is, Miller has been a little more assertive overseas than he has been in his own country. He’s an outlier. While most American Greco-Roman competitors typically find much more success domestically, Miller discovered that his approach had a greater effect against those big, bad foreigners everyone usually fawns over. You don’t go nuts over close losses to decorated opponents because after all, they’re still losses. But in the summer of 2016, Miller dropped a bout to Cenk Ildem of Turkey 2-0. Ildem, a Junior World champ in 2006 and a two-time Senior World bronze medalist, went on to score another bronze at the Olympics a month or so after he and Miller met at the Grand Prix of Germany. Okay, no big deal. Fast forward to this past January and there was Miller at the Paris International, earning bronze. Jump ahead to the end of March and there’s Miller again, grabbing another medal after a thrilling last-second win over Felix Etlinger (GER).

In the calendar year thus far, Miller is one of five US Seniors who have medaled in another country, joining Alex Sancho (66 kg, NYAC-OTS), Patrick Smith (71 kg, Minnesota Storm), Geordan Speiller (80 kg, Florida Jets), and two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (85 kg, NYAC). Domestically, Miller took seventh at the US Nationals last December, second at the Armed Forces in February, and seventh at the World Team Trials in late-April. It almost doesn’t make sense. Until you talk to him.

As he prepares for the 2017 CISM World Military Championships in Lithuania later this month, Daniel Miller is eager, introspective, and motivated. You get the sense listening to his answers that he knows the deal. Together with his coach and the All-Marine team as a whole, Miller says the issues holding him back against his fellow Americans have been identified with corrections coming fast. It’s easy to believe him, simply because his talent and overall capability is undeniable. However, while that is an item still waiting to play out, the concentration right now is on his wheelhouse. Miller is once again getting set to bang heads with competitors from elsewhere, service members of other nations, many of whom rank among the best on the planet. He likes this unconventional comfort zone. But more than anything, Miller is proud to just have the chance to represent his team, his sport, and his country, and that takes precedence over all the rest.

5PM Interview with Daniel Miller

5PM: It seems nearly every time I’ve written about you over the past year and change, the one thing I mention is your prowess against foreign opponents, how “Daniel Miller competes better overseas than he does domestically.” So I’ve asked various coaches and whomever else why you seem to do better once you cross the Atlantic Ocean but lose to guys in the US that on paper, you should probably squash. I’ve received different answers, but obviously, I want to hear it straight from you. 

Daniel Miller: I think the biggest thing for me overseas versus how I’ve wrestled in the past in the US is stylistic more than anything. The overseas guys wrestle in a different way than most US guys. But then I have also noticed that I wrestle differently against foreign competitors than I do a lot of times in the US. That has been something we finally identified this year and we’ve really been making strides to correct throughout the summer. And unfortunately, I haven’t had an opportunity to really compete in the US on the big stage since we said, Okay, this is the problem, how do we fix it? What do we need to do? 

I think a lot of it comes down to patience. Like you said, some of the guys who it might look like I’d squash on paper, I go out there in a match and the problem then becomes the mental attitude that I take towards it, like, Okay, I am much better than this dude. I’ve seen his results, I’ve seen my results, I’ve watched him wrestle. I should really square this dude off. What happens is I end up rushing scoring positions and wind up getting scored on. So if I try a four-point move and get countered for two, then I feel like, Okay, well now I REALLY need to score four points because this guy just countered my move and now I’m down, and it just leads to the situation becoming worse and worse.

One of the big things Coach (Jason) Loukides has preached to me is that you can kick a dude’s ass where at the end of the full six minutes, the score is 2-1. You don’t have to kick a dude’s ass on the scoreboard in order for you to really dominate the match. So what we have worked on is staying patient, getting to your ties, and ideally, just focusing on the basics. When I’m overseas, there are guys who, especially earlier on this year, really should have beaten me, at least on paper, if you look at the results and what not. So I go out there and I’m patient. I know I can’t force these moves.

Transferring that mentality into all of my matches is what we’ve really been working towards. I think I have made leaps and bounds in this regard. I am looking forward to CISMs, it is what we are focusing on right now and obviously, that’s an overseas competition. But keeping that mentality in every match. Whether it is overseas or in the US; no matter who it is against; staying within yourself; keeping to your stuff; practicing good basics and good wrestling; and taking advantage of situations when they present themselves. Or, creating situations to take advantage of but not trying to take advantage of a situation that isn’t there.

5PM: People like (Andy) Bisek and other recent US guys who have been successful overseas talk about “feel” but also, how the book on foreign guys has been that they open up more. We observe a different style in the US, it’s tighter and more pummel-happy with good wrestlers a lot of times holding out for passives. What I wonder plays a role is if your background, collegiately and everything else, makes you want to score and in the US for that to work, you have to have an opponent who is willing to also. I imagine that has to be a part of this.

DM: One of the most challenging things about international wrestling is that the rules are always going to change. Part of being a great wrestler is the ability to adapt to those rules and being successful regardless of what the rules are. At the end of the day, if passivity points go away, how are you going to win all of your matches if you won them before on passivity points? If forced par terre goes away, like it did, how are you going to win all of your matches without forced par terre? If it comes back and you were successful without it, how are you going to be successful with forced par terre being part of the picture? My belief, my answer to that, is you have to become a wrestler who can create positions to score and also, have the knowledge of your ability to score in any situation. In other words, regardless of what the rules are, you can put yourself in a position to score no matter what — whether you’re on top, whether you’re on bottom, whether you have an underhook, a two-on-one, whether the guy has an underhook on you and you can score from your overhook — whatever position that may be, you need to be able to have some kind of answer and you also need to be able to adapt.

For example, I was talking to Coach (Loukides) and he was having me work only on two-on-one’s the other day. I got extremely frustrated and I said, “A lot of times it’s extremely difficult for me to score from a two-on-one.” But we practiced it because there are certain matches against certain opponents where the two-on-one is the best option for me and I am going to need to know how to score from there.

At the end of the day, I think the answer to that is for me, you should be able to stop the score from your opponent from any position, regardless of the rules, and also, you should be able to do the same offensively. You should be able to score from any position regardless of the rules. Because if you could score those points from any position, then it doesn’t matter what the rules are, you’re going to win matches.

5PM: Last summer you wrestled two-time World bronze and eventual Olympic bronze medalist Cenk Ildem of Turkey and lost 2-0. Ildem has been a top guy for a very long time and I know a loss is a loss, but when you wrestle a guy like that, especially at that stage in your career and at this level, do you walk away saying, I’m not that far off here?

DM: No matter what, in any match, win or lose, especially the losses you can really react in two different ways. If you react the way I used to, you win and you celebrate it, but you don’t learn from it. And if you lose, you wallow in it, you get caught up in it, and you also don’t learn. So what I try to do now in every match, regardless of the opponent and regardless of the outcome, is say, What are the things I did well that I need to keep doing? What things do I need to do better? And, what are the things I did not do well and need to stop doing? If you can step back from your match and reflect on that, then no matter who the opponent is or what the result is, you’re learning from every match. That, to me, is going to help you improve in the long-term. That’s for any opponent and any outcome.

Now, when I have wrestled guys who are top-level competitors, one of the ways to look at it is, Yeah, I just hung in there with one of the best guys in the world. But at the end of the day, I’m not content with that because I want to be the best in the world. So it’s just an even better way to measure. I go out there and I wrestle with him and I say, Okay, what are the positions I was strong in? I felt like I pummeled really well in that match. He’s known as a very dynamic scorer from top. I stopped his scores when he was on top, this was when forced par terre was still in effect. But I wasn’t able to capitalize on where I felt I was dominant in, which was the pummels. I made a small mistake, I got caught in a front headlock and he did his signature snap-push on me. I recovered my hips and went to my belly and just stayed down there for a second or two because I thought he was coming around and I didn’t want to come back up and give up a big score. But looking back on it, if I had come up and not just said, I already gave up the two, I probably would have been able to counter that position and I wouldn’t have allowed him to score that two on me, and it would have been a 0-0 match, and who knows what the result of the match would have have been.

But like I said earlier, the point is, when I was able to get to my dominant positions, I wasn’t able to convert those into scoring moves. But those are the things that go through my mind when I wrestle someone like that, or really anyone of that caliber. It is just an even better test. You look at specific skill-sets. How did my par terre defense match up against him? How did my offense? And then you break it down from there. How was my gut? How was my lift? How was my lift defense? How was my pummeling square on? Did I get to my underhook? Did I dominate the underhook? Was I a little too loose? Did I not apply pressure in the right place? Did I stay in good position? Did I work the two-on-one? Is there any adjustment I could have made that would have been advantageous to me? 

When you are wrestling against higher caliber athletes, it allows you to make an even higher level assessment of those skill-sets. That is kind of what I look at after those matches. No matter who I lose to, I’m going to be upset. I just lost a match. But win or lose, my goal is to learn from that match and get better for the next one. If I am in the finals and I win, I’m still looking to get better because although I might have been the best that day, there might be another day when they can best me unless I continue to improve.

5PM: At the outset, you mentioned Coach Loukides worked with you on identifying what we’ll call the competitive imbalance you’ve had domestically and internationally. As you have developed as a Senior athlete and experienced this, how has it worked for you in terms of measurement? Do you measure yourself against the guys overseas? Or the guys who are in front of you domestically? Some wrestlers have different answers to this type of question. 

Daniel Miller: So for me, how I look at this now because obviously, this has changed for me, I took a break from wrestling for a couple of years and did the whole Marine Corps thing, came back, and have really been developing from there while changing the way I look at things and my philosophy. Where I am at now, I measure myself against myself. And it’s hard to do that, so what you have to do is look at it and ask, How did I pummel in this match versus how did I pummel in that match? What did I do good? What did I do bad? Every athlete, whether he is a foreigner or from the US, is a competitor in the weight class. And so, if you limit yourself to measuring yourself against one competitor, like you said, some people will say to measure yourself against others from the US. Some will say to measure yourself against people from overseas. And then the next step beyond that is to measure yourself against a World champ or a World medalist, etc.

I feel that is limiting how far you can take your measurement. Obviously, in wrestling, we talk about how there are stronger weight classes than others. So say for example that I am in a weight class that in general, is considered a weak weight class and I measure myself against the best guy in the US. Well, then I am not really going to set myself up for success when I go beyond that. Then you say, Okay, I am going to gauge myself against someone from overseas. And then once I reach that stage and I reach that measurement, now how do I win a World medal? Now you’re measuring yourself against a World medalist or a World champion. If you are in a weak weight class among that group, then who’s to say there won’t be someone else who gets raised up and is an even higher caliber wrestler?

That’s why I think the best way is for me to measure myself against myself. Because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, as well. If I measure my strength against someone else’s weakness, then you’re going to get a skewed measurement. You have to measure yourself against your own abilities and constantly try to improve upon them. That doesn’t mean you’re not watching other people and using what they do, but what it means is, you take knowledge from everyone else and from the situations that you’ve been in. You apply them to where you’re at in wrestling and the situations you find yourself in wrestling, and you can continue to improve yourself in those situations.

I measure myself against myself because if today, I can’t beat who I was yesterday or a month ago, then I am regressing. If I measure myself against someone else, then that really caps how far I can take myself. The goal isn’t to go out there to be the best in the US or to be the best in my weight class. The goal is to be the best, period. And in order for me to be the best, the only way to do that is to be able to challenge myself to get better every day, in every situation that I can, in every way possible.

5PM: How do you approach your own training in so far as making daily improvements? Do you watch video at times and go over specific items to work on? Do you do that, find certain things to hone in on from a technical aspect?

DM: Coach Loukides is a great coach. He is one of the best and I am very fortunate I am able to work with him every day because he is a student of the sport. He was on vacation with his family and I guarantee that at night when they had nothing to do, he was sitting on his phone watching film on wrestling that way when he came back, he’d have new stuff he wanted to try or new stuff to try and figure out. He’s as much of a student of the sport as we are as competitors. And I think that is very important for development and progression because if he limits himself to what he knows, then you can only go as far as he knows. If he is continuing to expand and learning new things or figuring things out and he stays curious about what’s out there, then he can show us. And he does a phenomenal job at doing that.

With our training regimen, it’s funny because growing up, I didn’t start wrestling until high school, and all through high school and college, coaches told me, You’re a grinder, you’re a grinder, you’ve got a gas tank, that’s what you’re good at. Then I came to the Marine team and Coach Loukides really put some science behind it. I’m not a freaking grinder. When it comes to my mindset, our attributes that are going to make us successful on the biggest stage and what is going to allow me to best at my best, I’m a power athlete. So I not only had to learn a whole new wrestling style in Greco, but also, a whole new physical skill-set of, Okay, good wrestling is good wrestling, but I know now that I’m a good grinder, but I’m not the best grinder in the world. So he really helps identify which attributes you really have to capitalize on, and then he finds specific things you can be successful with.

He works very well on an individual basis with the athletes. He’ll say,” You guys are going to drill for 30 minutes.” Then he’ll come around and show specific things and work with you instead of a group technique. Because a move isn’t going to work for everyone. So in order for you to become the best you can be, you need to know the moves that are going to work for you best. Sometimes he will show me these moves or techniques and I’ll be like, Coach, there is no way that I am ever going to hit that in a match. Next thing you know, two months later, I am in a situation hitting that move in a match and it makes a difference, whether I’m scoring or defending to win the match. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to eat my words and say, You know what, Coach? You were right. As much as I’ve butted heads with you and I didn’t think it was going to work, it did. He has really created a buy-in within the program.

Sometimes, I’m a little difficult to coach because I ask a lot of questions and sometimes, things are a little bit harder for me to grasp. But I am going to ask those questions, am going to work through it, and I am going to try to figure it out because like I said, you have to be able to score from any position and you have to be the best you can in every position, so if this could potentially give me the edge in a match, whether it is one match, ten matches, or a hundred matches, I want to know. Because if I get put in that situation, I want to be able to score from there or defend from there.

I think the biggest thing mentally going forward in training, is not setting limitations for yourself and not saying, That move isn’t going to work for me or I’m not capable of that. It’s being open to new things. And that is another great thing about getting out there in training. We went to World Team Camp and we try to go overseas as much as possible because every coach has different tidbits of information. It might be the same move for the same situation, but that one piece of information could make the difference between being successful in that situation and you not understanding exactly what you’re supposed to do. That has been a huge thing for me, not only being open to what Coach Loukides says, but also what my training partners or other coaches are telling me, and then going back and saying, Okay, what does work best for me? Knowing what works best for me and even if they aren’t my strong-suit, I still need those tools in my toolbox.

5PM: You mentioned the World Team Camp, the Marines were a part of that. But a lot of you guys also went over to France for the acclimation camp and served as warm up partners for the US team at the World Championships. How was that experience for you personally and what do you think you can draw from it competitively?

Daniel Miller: The Marines Corp, Coach Loukides, and Coach (Matt) Lindland have afforded me opportunities that go above and beyond, and I’d just like to start by saying how appreciative I am for what those guys and this organization have done for me. As far as progress, that kind of training is the training that is not only going to take me, but all of USA Greco-Roman wrestling, to the next level, whatever level that may be. Every athlete is at a certain level and you’re just trying to raise that level every day. That’s the best way to do it, to get out there and wrestle with other guys. It doesn’t matter if it’s a match in the room or a drill session, or you’re out there and actually competing.

The acclimation camp…you have to be selfless. I’m not the World Team guy. I’m out there realistically for Robby (Smith), Tracy (G’Angelo Hancock), and (Ben) Provisor. Those are the three guys on the team within my realm that I’m able to practice with and I can tell you right now, a lot of the guys, like Pat Smith, I’m out there drilling with him if he wants to go for a little bit. It doesn’t matter to me. You can learn from everyone. This is one of my takeaways that I learned right when I came to the Marine Corps — it doesn’t matter how old you are, what your background is, where you’re at right now in life, what your job is, what your education was, none of that matters because these two things will hold true — there is something that I can learn from you, be it wrestling, personal, professional, or whatever that may be, and there is something that I can teach you. And if you approach every interaction you have with that mindset, then you’re going to be better off than the average person because if you try to learn from every position that you’re in and you try to teach someone something, number one, you’re going to make an impression that you are trying to spread your knowledge to them and number two, you’re going to be open to learning things.

Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have, whether it’s on the mat, off the mat, personally, or professionally, that all binds. If you’re practicing bad habits in your personal life, it is going to affect your professional life. It’s going to affect your training and competition. Having those skills and being able to learn from people…I can’t tell you how much I’ve been able to learn from people. Like that camp in Hungary, Coach Loukides wasn’t able to come out with us and we were able to have Coach Mohamed (Abdelfatah) out there. That was my first overseas camp without having Coach Loukides with me and at first I was really concerned, but it wound up allowing me to focus on teaching points that Coach Mohamed had for us and I think it actually benefitted me more in the long run because I was able to focus on those points, get better in those situations that we worked on, and then I was able to bring those back to the team and continue to develop off of that. We started with an amount of growth that came from a different area there and continued to expand on that once we came back.

And then you go out to acclimation camp and you have Coach Momir (Petkovic) out there, Coach Lindland, Coach Mohamed, Coach Loukides, and various Army coaches, and when everybody is able to help each other out, the biggest thing is just learning. The more we can learn from each other, the better we’re going to be. It starts in the practice room and it’s going to carry on into the competition. The learning that I’ve done at these camps with the different coaches and practice partners, that’s going to come to fruition once we’re able to go out there and compete. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get out on the mat and compete. I’m excited to both go out to CISMs and then come back to the US and compete at the highest level I am capable of right now.

Daniel Miller drilling with Eric Fader

Miller, shown here drilling with Marine heavyweight Eric Fader ahead of the 2016 Olympic Trials, credits head coach Jason Loukides with helping him find more opportunities to learn from both training and tournament competition. (Photo: Cpl. Mark Watola)

5PM: If you could go back, is there anything you would do differently pertaining to your start in Greco?

DM: My mentality in a lot of situations and the way I handled a lot of situations has changed over the past almost two years now that I’ve been wrestling Greco. If I could go back, I’d tell myself when I was just starting out to face things the way I do now. I talked earlier about how you can react two different ways to matches. I can tell you when I first started out (in Greco) and even when I was younger, the first reaction for athletes after a loss is to just wallow in it and be disappointed without looking at it like a learning situation. So I think I missed out on a lot of the learning I could have done earlier on in my career. And that goes the same for the practice room. You can learn from every situation. Just because you think this move won’t work for you doesn’t mean it’s not going to, or that you won’t find a place where it’s applicable. You might wind up winning a match later on down the road because of it.

Really, the only thing I would change is the mentality that I had when I first came to Greco. Obviously, I have a folkstyle background, I had a freestyle background, and I came here and they said, Hey, we only wrestle Greco. I was like, Holy crap, I don’t know anything about Greco. I was pretty decent at freestyle and not bad at folkstyle, but here we go, I don’t know how I am going to feel about this. I had a relatively good amount of success in both of those styles and when I started Greco, you come into the room and wrestle other Marines. At first, I was getting my butt kicked by guys who I don’t even know and never heard their names, especially guys who didn’t wrestle in college, and I’m like What the heck is going on? I don’t understand why I’m not being successful. Maybe I’m not supposed to be a wrestler anymore.

I think that’s something everyone goes through at a certain point to a different degree. But that really hindered my ability to learn in the early stages and I wish I could have changed that and learned more in the beginning. I could only imagine where I’d be now. The good news is that we’re going to continue to change, we’re going to continue to get better, and we’re capitalizing on things now, and I think that mentally, I am headed in the right direction training-wise. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the future, but as far as changing things in the past, the only thing I would say is that the mental dispositions I had then, I wish I would have put those aside so I could learn the lessons I have now earlier.

5PM: I don’t know if the timing is perfect or if it ever even is, but this opportunity seems like it’s coming around at wonderful time in your career. Walk me through your response to finding out you being selected to the US Military World Team and also, when did your training phase for this event really start to kick in?

DM: I guess we’ll go back to Armed Forces this year to start it. Obviously, I wrestled Endhyr Meza in what was essentially the finals of our weight class. I had won in every match prior to that and beat him in a shutout 8-0 at the World Team Trials shortly thereafter, but lost when it really mattered at the actual Armed Forces Championships, which was disappointing. Two years in a row now, (I) have taken the gold in freestyle and the silver in Greco. Last year, unfortunately we didn’t send a team (to the CISM World Championships), the first team that I made. This year, we are sending a team and again, I am very grateful for that. I didn’t find out I would be wrestling Greco, even potentially, until we were in Colorado for World Team Camp. I had heard about Meza having some health troubles and obviously, I wish nothing but the best for him. But I’m also very thankful for this opportunity. The level of excitement and the idea that I could even be potentially wrestling Greco as opposed to freestyle out there, just because it’s what we train full-time and it’s where my heart is set at now, it’s indescribable. When it came down as a finalized decision, it was a happy moment for me. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like, Okay, you messed up, you didn’t win it (the Armed Forces) even if you should have. It’s almost like a second chance for me at this point. So I’m really excited to go out there and take advantage of it.

As far as for the training side of things, it’s difficult right now and I’m going to preface it with something Coach Loukides has shared with me before, and that is there are two kinds of athletes and two kinds of success with being an athlete. The first kind of success is being successful because you’re in the right position. The stars have aligned or things are going right for you. The other kind is when you are being successful despite your situation. Those to me are the athletes who are more able to win and regardless of the situation, you’re a competitor. Don’t get me wrong — we have a fantastic situation right now, but we’re in the middle of moving facilities, and our training center is kind of limited and our schedule, as well, because we also have to move our equipment. Thankfully, it’s due to the renovation of our building, so we’re really looking forward to that. But at the same time, we also have other stuff going on.

With our training, it doesn’t start one month out, two months out. It starts all the way back in the beginning of the season. I learned a lot over the past summer and we’ve identified some shortfalls that I had. I haven’t competed a lot this summer because we’ve been training so much. But right when we got back from acclimation camp is when we started to focus on, Okay, guys who are on the freestyle World Team, focus on that. Guys who are on the Greco World Team, we’re starting to button stuff up and get into our match preparation. We’re really making the most out of the situation. We’re Marines, we’re resourceful. We’ll make do with what we have. You throw one mat section down in a basement with no lights, and we’ll go down there and grind it out. We don’t care.

It’s not like we’re in a bad situation and I don’t want to make it seem like that. But what I do mean to say, is that we’re trying to be successful no matter what’s going on around us, and that is a mentality we try to push as much as possible. Not only as Marines, but as Marine athletes. We’re really excited for the team that we’re bringing out there. Sergeant (John) Stefanowicz has a slot on here now at 85 kilos, so that was just as exciting for me to hear that he was going as much as it was to hear that I was going myself. Then we also have Lance Corporal (Eric) Fader coming in at heavyweight. I think (Toby) Erickson is doing some school stuff for the Army right now, so he’s unavailable to go. We’re really thankful that we’re bringing some guys out there and we are excited for it. We are also excited that we found out in a timespan where we could say, Hey, let’s start doing the small things we have to do to get your ready for the next competition. Let’s start buttoning those small things up and getting the match preparation ready.

The camp has been great. We have had some really good training. We also have some other stuff going on where at the end of the day, you’re going to have to wrestle through some adversity. Especially when you’re in the tournament. In a way, it’s almost simulating that effect like, We’re going through some stuff right now, we have some changes coming down, but guess what? We’re going to compete as hard as possible and put our best foot forward. And I think we’re going to be successful.

5PM: We’ve covered your development, we’ve covered you adjusting your approach coming into and out of matches. This is the biggest event of your life thus far it would seem. But what is, out of everything, that you are looking forward to the most once you get out there on the mat in Lithuania?

Daniel Miller: One of the things you touched on earlier was how many guys overseas wrestle for the Armed Forces. I think a big part of that is and why we don’t have it so much is that the US is the land of opportunity. There are a lot of other programs which afford really good opportunities where you could go out there and train and compete with them. I don’t want to say it’s unfortunate; it’s a good thing to have opportunities to train and compete. But it also means that the men and women who decide to serve in the Armed Forces and also compete at this level, they are not only competing, but they are also willing to make a sacrifice. So for me, the most exciting thing is to go out there with my brothers and sisters in arms and stand with however many other countries are represented and their men and women serving those nations’ militaries. Just showing them that, This is the United States. this is who we are, and being successful out there. That, to me, I’m anticipating to be one of the proudest moments of my life. Standing out there with the men and women from the United States who have sacrificed or are willing to as members of the Armed Forces, but we’re also high-level competitors. We’re out there to win medals and bring some hardware home.

For me, that’s definitely the most exciting thing. Obviously, I am excited to go out there and compete, and show the progress we’ve made this summer. I hope I am able to convert and show that progress once we get out on the wrestling mat, and I think we are in a really good spot for that as far as training-wise. We are feeling really good lately. I am also looking forward to that. Those have been the two big things for me — standing out there with my brothers and sisters in arms, and going out there to compete and showing the hard work we’ve been putting in.

Follow Daniel Miller on Instagram to keep up with his career and competitive schedule. 

Listen to “5PM08: Spenser Mango returns to discuss the 2017 World Championships” on Spreaker.

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