At the start of his prep career, many people had many ideas about Tyler Brandow’s athletic future.

Now, three and a half years later, the Mexico senior determined his own path at the high school on Monday by signing his national letter of intent to run for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, IA. starting this fall.

“I’ve coached Tyler for all four years, so I’ve gone from seeing him as a freshman wondering if running was his sport to see him grow into an elite runner who qualified for the state meet last season,” said Mexico track coach Lucas Brenneman. “Looking back to his first year, we probably never thought he’d have this opportunity to run at an elite level. We thought he’d run the two-mile. It’s all a testament to his hard work. His drive to become better.”

At the 2016-17 Missouri State High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships May-26-17 at Jefferson City High School, Brandow did qualify in the 800 and finished 15th. But, it was his time of 2:03.47 according to that caught the eye of several different coaches.

“This year we’re trying to get his time under two minutes in the 800. That is a huge feat that not a lot of high school kids reach that we feel he has a good chance at,” Brenneman said. “I think Tyler will do fine with the leap from high school to college. In talking to his new coach (Scott Barnes), we have very similar philosophies, so I think it will be an easy transition and we’ll see him grow from his freshman to sophomore year, which will set him up to keep advancing.”

The 2017-18 MSHSAA is also no stranger to Brandow as he qualified and finished 141st in 19::07.88 on Nov. 4. Prior to that on Oct. 28 in Class 3, District 5, the Bulldog finished seventh by clocking in at 17:22.

“Indian Hills is getting a dedicated athlete who’ll put forth his best effort to do whatever is asked of him. He doesn’t cut corners when he’s on his own. That’s important because at the college level there’s a lot of expectation to stick to the training schedule,” said Mexico cross country coach John Wilbers. “We’ll miss him tremendously because as someone I spent three hours with every day after school for years, there’s a relationship there as a coach, an athlete and a friend.”

This season Indian Hills began the indoor track and field season on Dec. 11 at the Dutch Holiday Preview. Highlights included Chris Kubli finishing second in the 800 in 2:01.76. More recently on Jan. 22 the Warriors earned their first win in program history by racking up 130 points at the Chelsey M. Henkenius Open at Wartburg College.

“We look at times regardless of place, and the more we looked at him the more we realized he’s just an all-around runner. He’s a good 800 runner and a good miler. He can also run the 5k and the two-mile,” said Indians Hills track and cross country coach Scott Barnes. “As we were getting information together on all the kids we wanted to visit in the surrounding state Tyler actually sent us something, which was perfect because I recognized his name right away.”

The Warriors 2017-18 cross country season came to a close at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships in Fort Dodge, IA. on Nov. 13 at Lakeside Golf Course. The meet consisted of 43 other teams that were made up of 313 individuals and freshman Clayton Grainger had the best time for the Indian Hills men at 27:55.1.

“Tyler is 6-foot-5 with speed. A diamond in the rough. His recruiting visit went great and Tyler comes from a great family,” Barnes said. “It was an easy choice to make Tyler an offer and we’re thrilled that he accepted it, but we treat our freshman and sophomores like they’re freshman and sophomores. We don’t want athletes to think that because we only have them for two years that we’re going to try and get everything out of them we can right this second.”

One challenge that’s different for Brandow than some other athletes in his position is that he’ll be expected to compete in both cross country and track because of his skill sets. Fortunately for all involved the current Bulldog appears to be in-line with every part of this agreement both athletically and scholastically.

“I like that Indians Hills is a two-year school. At this point it’s a good option for me to go there. I’ll go there for two years, get an Associate’s Degree in Arts then try and transfer somewhere else to get my Bachelors,” said Brandow. “I was considering some other schools, but not that seriously. I’m pretty excited about seeing what I can do as a college athlete. This is a proud day and it’s even better because I’ve got my friends and family here to experience this with me.”