By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Age is only a number.
Maranda Mills is proof of that.
Despite being only a freshman, Mills had a stellar 2012 calendar year, as she had quite a bit of success on the basketball court, as well as, on the track and field circuit.
And for that success, the Somerset High School sophomore has been named the 2012 Commonwealth Journal Female Athlete of the Year, which is something that Mills is very honored to add to her already successful list of accomplishments.
“It feels amazing to be named the Female Athlete of the Year - and it’s a huge privilege,” began Mills, who is the youngest female to ever win the award. “I appreciate all the respect I have gotten from the Commonwealth Journal.”
Mills’ freshman basketball season didn’t start as good as it ended, as she began the season as a reserve, rather than a starter. But after hard work and impressive play when she came in the game, then Lady Jumper head coach Chris Adkins placed her in the starting line-up.
Despite being placed in a starting five filled with seniors and players with a lot more experience than her, Mills began making a name for herself, slashing and weaving her way through opposing defenses for basket after basket.
The freshman guard played a big role in Somerset’s 12th Region All “A” Classic championship, a game that saw the Lady Jumpers overcome a large deficit to down Monticello on their own home court. Mills scored a game-high 16 points in the opening round game of the Girls 47th District Tournament, a season-ending loss that saw regional runner-up Casey County defeat the Lady Jumpers.
Mills was happy to given the chance to make the starting five and get a lot of valuable minutes as a freshman, which has helped her so far in her sophomore campaign under first-year head coach Erin Walker.
“Basketball, last year, was okay,” told the Somerset athlete. “I didn't start at the beginning of the year, but towards the end of the year, I started, which got me ready for this year. This year, I think we’re going to be good, we just haven’t learned how to play with each other yet, but give us some time and we'll be just fine.”
As of December 20, Mills is second on the team in scoring with an average of 14 points per game. Also, Mills is second on the squad in free-throw percentage and is in the top three in rebounding.
Track and field is where Mills did her best work, as she tallied a state title and numerous regional titles in her freshman season as a member of the Somerset track team, coached by Steve Wallace.
Just like basketball season, it was a slow start for the Lady Jumper freshman. After a few practices under her belt, Mills began to see some improvement - so did all of her competitors.
“Track season started out a little slow for me this year, but after training and coming out every evening for a hard work out with coach Wallace and my teammates, my jumping definitely started to improve,” explained Mills. “I struggled more on high jump than anything else during this season. My triple jumping and long jumping were my main focuses, which helped me to win a gold and silver medal at state.”
“Many people doubted me because I was a freshman, but after getting two medals freshman year, my goal is to bring home medals all four years from state.”
Mills did just that, proving a lot of people wrong by claiming a gold medal and a silver medal at the KHSAA Class A State Track Meet at the University of Louisville. She got the first place medal in the triple jump event, finishing first with a jump of 36’9.25”. In the long jump, Mills got second with a mark of 17’0.75.”
At the Class A Region 6 Meet at Somerset’s Clark Field, Mills finished with a meet-high 32 points in a meet that saw the Lady Jumpers claim their fourth regional title in five years. The regional meet was a huge night for Mills, as she claimed first-place medals in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump.
Thanks to strong Region and State meets, Mills was named the best freshman field event athlete in the state by KYTrackXC.com. Mills also was awarded the 2012 Commonwealth Journal All-County Track and Field Co-Athlete of the Year, an award that she shared with Brian Obino, another Somerset athlete.
Despite garnering so many accomplishments at such a young age, Mills is determined to make history and go down as one of the best athletes in Somerset High School history.
“My goals for this basketball season is to win district and go to region for the first time in almost 10 years,” concluded Mills. “My goals for track are to win again in triple jump and long jump, and to break more records.”
If 2012 was any indication of things, Maranda Mills will be breaking more records and go down in history as one of the best athletes to ever come through the Somerset-Pulaski County area.