GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, N.C.—At last year’s Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Braidy Miller battled it out with his younger brother, Brent, to edge him in seven Scottish heavyweight traditional athletic events to become Scottish Athlete of the Games.
Same story this year, except last year’s third place finisher, Wis Kiser, tied with Brent Miller for second.
Braidy Miller, from Lebanon,finished first in three of the seven competitions: the 56-pound weight throw for distance, 40 feet and eight inches; the 22-pound hammer throw, 107 feet and four inches; and turning the caber with a 50-degree turn (180-degree is perfect).
None of the athletes could turn the caber, a telephone pole-like tree trunk flipped end over end. Last year, the caber was 19 feet. This year, it was 21 feet, six inches. Last year, it was dry, and this year, it was waterlogged and 15 to 20 pounds heavier, thanks to a heavy Thursday night rain.
Braidy finished second in the 28-pound weight throw for distance and tossing the sheaf (a 16-pound burlap sack of hay) with a pitchfork over a bar.
Brent Miller, from Gordonsville, won the clachneart (16-pound stone) toss for distance, with 47 feet, eight inches, and the 28-pound for distance, with 77 feet, three inches. He finished second in the 56-pound weight tossed for height, with 16 feet on his second try.
Wes Kiser, from Gibsonville, N.C., won the sheaf toss with a height of 32 feet.
Braidy turns 50 in February, yet he competes across the country at the highest level among the Highland Games professionals.
“I compete in 12 to 15 games a year, with 10 being professional,” he said. “Last month, I came in second to the No. 1 ranked Highland Games professional athlete in the world at the Chicago games.
“I am getting older. I have some white showing on my head and goatee. What I do, though, is make fewer mistakes than my other competitors. I study my technique. I will be in contention or finish high in all the events. I won’t have a bad one. In the end, I’m right there.”
When asked about the spelling of his first name, Braidy, he said, “My mother wore braids. Some of the men in my family with long hair wore it braided. That’s how I got my name!”
Braidy is a middle school P.E. teacher and football coach in Nashville. He loves the Grandfather Games and said, “I love the beauty of the place. The Games are more realistic to how they do the games in Scotland, and the crowds here are fantastic. Besides, I have a sister and brother-in-law in Newland.”