By Michael Smith
Whether they wrestled together or in different years there, have been quite a few dominant siblings in Missouri high school wrestling history.
Whether it’s Zach and Mac Bailey of Oak Park, Nick and Tony Purler of Wentzville or Cameron and Colin Valdiviez of Rockhurst, just to name a few, there have been some sibling duos throughout Missouri wrestling history that have combined for multiple first-place state medals between them.
So are there still brothers that replicate the success of the aforementioned wrestlers today?
The answer to that is yes. Enter Ethen and Kal Miller of Park Hill.
Last season the Millers were the first siblings to win a state championship in the same season since the Valdiviez brothers did it in 2016. Ethen Miller won at 138 and Miller won at 145.
With it being Ethen’s senior year and Kal being a junior, the Millers have a chance to do it again this season as they will go into the Class 4 Missouri High School Wrestling Championships as No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes.
They both got started when they were around 4 to 5 years old. Another wrestling family within the Park Hill program, the DiBlasis, helped get them started. Their dad met Ron DiBlasi, and convinced him to get his boys involved in the sport.
“We just tried it one day and ended up liking it,” Kal said. “We had wrestling mats in the basement, so we would get after it.”
Ethan said when he was six, he started winning national titles in Tulsa. Kal had a good deal of success around the same age, as well.
So what would they say were the best moments of their careers? Ethen said his occurred when he took second at Fargo Nationals as a junior in the freestyle division. Kal said his moment also came at Fargo Nationals when he earned All-America honors.
That success has carried over to high school where both of them will look to become two-time state champions. They said they feel good about their chances.
“We go in thinking we are going to win every tournament,” Miller said. “If you have a strong mindset on what you’re doing, you’ll be good at it.”
Added Kal: “I don’t like to get involved with the hype of state. Just go out there and do your thing. It’s just another tournament.”
Park Hill wrestling coach Jason Keck credits the Millers’ success to their work ethic.
“What separates them from everyone else is they are in here every day training their tails off,” Keck said. “They are doing stuff outside the room and inside the room. They have skill but it’s through their repetition and the intensity they bring to every single thing they do.
“They earned everything they’ve accomplished through hard work. They are the last to leave the room.”
The Millers have both proven they are elite-level wrestlers in high school. So what happens when they wrestle each other? Who wins?
“Me,” Ethen said. We try to take each other down a lot in practice, we get handsy.”
And while they can be really competitive when they wrestle each other, the brothers have a close bond. At the Class 4 District 8 Tournament in early February, Ethen lost the championship match at 145 pounds to Liberty’s Kyle Dutton after an injury forfeit. On a takedown attempt from Dutton, Ethen landed on his head and was knocked out cold.
After being down on the mat for several minutes with very limited movement, Ethen had to be carried out on a stretcher by local paramedics. After seeing his brother suffer a potential serious injury, Kal had to wrestle right after Ethan was carried out of the building.
“It just shocked me because he’s tough.” Kal said. “I saw he wasn’t getting up because his eyes were shut. I was getting nervous. Then I had to regroup and think about my match.”
Kal ended up winning his district match to take first, and Ethen didn’t end up having a concussion or any other serious injury.
“When they were asking me questions (at the hospital), I told them I feel fine” Ethen said. “I really think I just got knocked out. I was blurry there for a little bit. I just got lucky.”
While Ethen is a year ahead of Kal in high school, they will be teammates on the University of Maryland wrestling team in 2023.
“That was our goal the entire time wrestling each other,” Kal said. “We wanted to wrestle together in college. It’s going to be fun.”
So what made the Millers want to become Terrapins?
“I talked to multiple other schools,” Ethen said. “I went to Minnesota, Mizzou and Wyoming. Those are ones I went on a visit, too. What stood out to me was the after school stuff business wise is a big thing for me.
“And Coach (Alex Clemsen) was the assistant Mizzou coach a couple of years ago and he’s always been there for me. He’s the head coach for Maryland now and he’s been my guy. I like him a lot. It’s the Big Ten. You are going to be wrestling the best guys every week. That’s going to be really cool.”
After their high school and college careers, the Millers have a big goal they’ve set for themselves. Both of them have been to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado and both have a dream of competing in the Olympics.
“That would be really cool to complete in the Olympics,” Ethen said. “That’s our biggest goal. Even if you are doing well in college, you can try out for the team. It depends on your level and skill.
“I want to win a couple of national titles at Maryland. Then in the summer I will focus on freestyle stuff and I will try to make a junior team while I am in college.”
Added Kal: “Same with me.”