Myles Pringle, a junior on Ashland University's No. 3-ranked track and field team, won two national titles in 2017, but he only stood atop the podium to accept one of them.
On May 27, the final day of the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships in Bradenton, Fla., Pringle earned All-American honors with AU's 4x100-meter relay team. Shortly thereafter, he cleared heights of 6-feet-7 and 6-feet-9 in the high jump. Moments later, Pringle won his second national title of the year, finishing the 400 dash in a school-record 45.77 seconds. But he couldn't accept his award. A bar that rested 6-feet-10 off the ground was calling his name.
"I was told that I would need to have someone stand in for me on the podium," Pringle said. "I asked if it could be anyone, and the official said, 'it can be anyone.' At that moment, I already knew who I wanted to take the trophy for me."
Pringle literally lifted his brother, Anthony, out of the stands and lowered him onto the track. He is a 13-year-old with Down syndrome. So Anthony waited for instructions, walked to the top of the podium and received the trophy from AU assistant coach Ernie Clark as seven All-American D-II sprinters stood to his side with the public address announcer explaining the situation. He smiled from ear to ear, and so did several others at IMG Academy's stadium.
Nestled quietly in the midst of the attention that Anthony received was the fact that Myles was competing in three events in one day, something so uncommon that the events weren't spaced out enough for him to be able to accept his own award.
Pringle did indeed leap over the bar that sat two inches taller than the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, but that's as high as he'd go that day, so he placed 10th of 19 in the high jump. His 2016-17 season concluded with 400 gold both indoor and outdoor as well, as All-American honors in three other events.
Led by Pringle in points at all four meets, the Eagles finished second at indoor nationals, third at the indoor Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, tied for third at outdoor nationals and first at outdoor GLIACs.
Now, nearly nine months later, Pringle finds himself again chasing down two, and possibly more, national titles.
With the indoor national championships set for March 9-10 in Pittsburg, Kan., Pringle is ranked first nationally in the 400 (46.42 seconds), second in the 200 (21.46 second), second in the high jump (7-feet-0.5) and second with the 4x400 team (3:13.13).
"This year, I'm more healthy," Pringle said. "Last year was eye-opening. I was hectic, and I was freaking out (at the indoor national championships). I now know what I need to do going into it. That's a huge advantage going into the national meet."
The Eagles will head to the Akron Invitational on Friday (Feb. 2) and Saturday (Feb. 3), but Pringle will not attend. He's going to Lackland, Texas, to watch his girlfriend graduate from the United States Air Force, but he knows what the goal of the team is in Ashland.
"Coach Clark tells us to keep doing what we're doing," Pringle said. "We're only so many meets away from nationals, so he's saying to go into every meet with the mindset that we're going to put down good times."