Ashley Miller. Graduate of Tipton HS and the University of Nebraska. Iowa’s only 15 time track and field state champion also won three Drake Relays 800M titles in high school.
Feature Photo: Ashley Miller, Brooke & Blair Dinsdale, Ellen Dougherty ©Jim Kirby
The Drake Relays are one of the premier athletic events in the entire state of Iowa, and being raised in a state that tremendously values track and field tradition was certainly a motivational factor for me to put forth my best efforts in front of the home crowd. My first Drake Relays experience was in 2004, as a little high school freshman, where I qualified in the 800 meter-run, as well as with a few relay teams for the Tipton Tigers. Going into this meet, I was ranked #1 in the 800, so I remember experiencing paradoxical emotions; nervousness, because I was only a freshman and had never run in front of a crowd that big, yet also feelings of ease due to being a freshman and really having nothing to prove.
I ended up winning the high school girls 800 meter-run in my inaugural Relays, and to this day, that race was one of the most memorable days of my life. Imagine being a novice 15 year-old finishing to the roar of the crowd, receiving a white champion flag, and getting the honor of taking a victory lap, just like the professionals. Talk about a young athlete’s dream come true! This first notable championship at the Drake Relays really bolstered my athletic career, contributing my confidence, drive to compete at the collegiate level (and beyond), and the recognition to make these dreams a reality.
Fast forward a few more Drake Relays 800 meter-run titles and 15 state track and field titles later, I was fortunate to return to the blue oval while competing for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. During my collegiate tenure, I was always welcomed home with open arms and unmatchable crowd support. Some notable memories included competing on an all-Iowa prep 4×800-meter relay with Brooke (Dinsdale) Schupbach, Blaire Dinsdale, and Ellen (Dougherty) Mangieri, and bringing home my only collegiate Drake Relays flag in my final attempt, winning the 2012 collegiate 1500 meter-run in then-record fashion.
Although I have now hung up my track racing spikes, I will never forget my amazing experiences at the Drake Relays. The athletes, volunteers, and fans make this event one of the best track and field events in the world, and I will always take pride in being a native Iowan rooted in that history.
Ashley Miller, MS, RDN, LD