From underdog to top dog, how Ankeny's Tyrese Miller became a favorite in several events at Iowa state track

Alyssa Hertel
Des Moines Register

Ankeny sprinter Tyrese Miller is used to photo finishes.

That’s the nature of competing in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, in addition to anchoring the Hawks’ 4x100, 4x400 and sprint medley relay teams. He’s one of the fastest runners in Iowa right now, and his track record this season shows that.

So, those photo finishes, well it’s usually Miller crossing first.

Take a look at the images and you’ll notice one thing that sets him apart from his competitors, and that’s the gold chain dangling — from his mouth.

Athletes wearing necklaces while competing is hardly new. But Miller doesn’t like how it bounced up in his face when he raced full speed down the track. Nor did he plan on taking it off.

“I’ve done that all this season," Miller said, "so it’s like a good luck charm in a way now.”

Tyrese Miller of Ankeny wins the boys 100m at the Drake Relays Friday, April 29, 2022.

Luck aside, it’s Miller’s legs that have really made him one of the top runners in the state.

He is fifth in Class 3A in the 100-meter dash, with a time of 10.88 seconds. Miller is 22nd in the 200, but first in the 400, which he says is his favorite event. He’s also helped Ankeny to the fourth best time in the 4x100 relay and sixth in the 4x400 relay.

Those times and standings have fluctuated all season, but it was Miller who performed best at the Drake Relays.

His season-best time of 10.88 seconds was enough to beat out Cedar Rapids Washington’s Miles Thompson — who holds the current fastest time in the state — and Titus Christiansen — the reigning 100-meter dash Drake champion.

“It was pretty big for me,” Miller recalled. “Coming in, I didn’t have the top time in the state or anything like that. So, I wasn’t really in competition for first place. But, it just meant a lot, really boosted my confidence and helped me get going.”

Shortly after, Miller went on to win the 400-meter dash, outlasting Spirit lake’s Qai Hussey in the home stretch. Ankeny finished second in the 4x100 relay and third in the 4x400 meter relay.

Like several boys track athletes, Miller can trace his start in athletics back to football and basketball. He remembers being one of the faster players on the field when he was younger, and when he was about 13 years old, his mom suggested he try track and field over the summer.

Track quickly became the focus, and now Miller’s closest connection to football is racing against athletes like Christiansen.

“We’ve run against each other for basically our whole high school career,” Miller said. “He won it last year, and I ran against them earlier in the year too. It’s great competition.”

Despite getting his athletic start in team sports, Miller learned he liked the little bit of solitude that came with running track. The only person he needed to rely on was himself, and the only person counting on him was also himself.

Tyrese Miller gets set in the blocks ahead of the 400-meter dash at the Drake Relays. Miller ran in 47.91 seconds, which is still the fastest time in the state in the 400.

It didn’t hurt that he was good at running 100 meters in less than 11 seconds.

And while you might think that running a race that quickly slows down time for Miller, it’s actually the opposite.

“If anything, it feels faster for me because I get out of the blocks and my head isn’t even up until the race is like almost halfway through,” Miller said. “The process is fast too. When I get into the blocks, I’m just thinking to myself, ‘Explode out of the blocks, stay low and run fast.’”

Regardless of the fluctuation in top times since Drake Relays, Miller is still a favorite to win the Class 4A 100- and 400-meter dashes at the state meet, thanks to his success on the Blue Oval. He could even be a surprise winner in the 200, in which Miller’s time and the top time in 4A are separated by 1.07 seconds.

Miller will head to the University of Iowa in the fall, where he has a spot on the Hawkeyes track team and will compete in at least the 400. Ankeny won’t be without a talented Miller, though. Tyson Miller competes in pretty much every event as his older brother and seems poised to take over when Tyrese graduates.

Tyrese Miller won the boys 100-meter final at the Drake Relays with a time of 10.88 seconds. In the weeks since, four other Class 4A runners have ran a faster time in the 100.

For now, Tyrese Miller has his sights set on state, where he wants to replicate the success he found at Drake earlier this year.

“I want to go for the triple crown at state in the sprint events, and then hopefully set the state record in the sprint medley that I’m running or something like that.”

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.