"I'm enjoying the moment. Twenty years from now, I want to look on this and smile," says Thomas, a teacher and the cross country coach at Kelvin High School, adding that last year Miller won the provincial high school junior varsity cross country championship.
"I was delighted and somewhat surprised. I expected them to be in the top five. I knew what their potential was.
"With kids like Greg and Colin, my strategy as a coach is don't screw them up. Just let them run. These kids are pre-disposed to run."
Miller claims he knew that he'd be up against tough competition at the cross country meet.
"I wasn't overly confident, but I knew that I could run a good time," says the six-foot, 128-pound 16-year-old, who posted a personal best time of 15 minutes 17 seconds for the 5,000 metre course at Birch Ski Area in Roseile.
Barnett, who like Miller is in Grade 11, says it felt good to medal in the race.
"All the practice paid off and made it all seem worthwhile," adds the 5-foot-11, 135 pounder, who clocked in at 15:30 minutes on the course.
"This was the best I've done in cross country. It was good competition so I ran my hardest."
Barnett and Miller compete for the Winnipeg Optimist track club too.
"I started with Optimists last December. A friend from my former school, Gordon Bell, introduced me to his coach at Optimist at last year's cross country championships. Then, I started going out for practises," says Barnett, whose other specialties are the 800 metres and 1,500 metres.
He emphasizes that he and Miller are two different types of runners.
"Greg's more of a long distance runner and I'm a middle distance runner. I just ran my race and he ran his," says Barnett.
Miller, who also does the 3,000 metres, 1,500 metres and steeple chase events in track, notes that he trains three times per week with the Optimists at Garbage Dump hill on Sargent Avenue where the team does "hill work, running drills" and stretching.
"And, I run every day on my own," he says, adding that he set the provincial midget boys indoor record for the 3,000 metres at the Cargill Games two years ago.
A few years ago, Miller, who also swam with Manitoba Marlins from ages five to 15, competed in Kids of Steel triathlons.
"I got into track when a friend in triathlon told me about the Optimist program. He said, 'You're a pretty good runner. You should switch to that instead,' " he says.
"From the start, I knew I could do well in track. If I'm stressed out, I'll go for a hard run and it makes everything better. Running also gives me time to think about stuff."
PHOTO GEORGE DOUKLIAS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS