By Justin Jarrett
Nash Mills’ two favorite places to be are on the water or pounding the trails, so he found a place he could do both at the next level.
A standout track and cross country star at Beaufort High School, Mills has committed to compete in the same sports at UNC Wilmington next school year. Mills took an unofficial visit in June and fell in love with the campus and coaching staff, and he committed during an official visit last week in which he met and worked out with his future teammates.
As an avid surfer who loves to spend time at the beach, UNCW’s proximity to the water – and its marine biology program — were appealing.
“I felt like I could really fit in there,” Mills said. “I’m really excited to compete at the Division I level against all those bigger college guys.”
The biggest transition for Mills will be moving from running 5K races in high school cross country to the 8K distance in college, but his immediate concern is getting back out with his Beaufort teammates. Mills and his father, Eagles cross country coach Howard Mills, were in a serious car accident on July 1, leaving Nash with numerous injuries, including a broken leg.
He had surgery to insert a steel rod in his femur to aid the healing process, and it has been a long road to recovery. Mills was limited in his mobility for several weeks but has been regaining his fitness through physical therapy, swimming, and biking as he works his way back up to running. He has been his teammates’ biggest cheerleader — essentially an assistant coach — and attended meets and practices, but he hopes to rejoin the Eagles for the region and state meets, even if he isn’t in shape to successfully defend his Region 7-4A individual title.
Mills hopes to be back to full strength for his final high school track season and continue his growth in the 400 and 800.
Regardless of his results the rest of his senior year, though, Mills won’t take the opportunity to run for granted. Not anymore.
“It was definitely pretty difficult those first few weeks when I was just sitting on a bed inside,” Mills said. “One thing I’ve learned is I don’t want to not run. Before the injury, I had days and weeks where I just didn’t want to run, and I don’t feel like that’s going to happen again. Once I’m running again, I don’t want to stop.”