NewsCovering Louisiana


Garage sale find leads Louisiana teen to chase world records

Posted at 1:20 PM, Aug 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-28 14:20:51-04

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The last time Dylan Miller was in the news, he was an 11-year-old dreaming of Rubik’s Cube world records.

He was a student at Baton Rouge Lutheran School, where he was a member of the flag football and basketball teams. But no matter what, the Rubik’s Cube was always in reach.

Now, as he launches his freshman year at LSU and settles into his dorm room in Herget Hall, the Rubik’s Cube is still by his side.

In July, Miller traveled to Toronto for the WCA Rubik’s North American Championship, where he placed fourth in the classic 3-by-3 competition, competing against 500 of the world’s fastest solvers from 22 countries who gathered to compete in the the largest speedcubing competition since the pandemic.

He talks about his hopes for a future in radio journalism, as he reaches for the cube mid-conversation. He graduated Baton Rouge Magnet High School in May, where he was heavily involved in the radio program, and he’d like to continue that path at LSU.

These days, Miller is thinking about a career in broadcast journalism, but there was some time between graduation and college where Miller had a chance to chase his speedcubing dreams, traveling to Rubik’s Cube competitions in pursuit of a world’s record.

Miller’s best time, so far, is 5.08 seconds. He’s getting closer, but he’s not quite there yet. The world record is 3.47 seconds.

World record or not, watching him twist the six sides of a 3-by-3 cube into solid colors in a matter of seconds is nothing less than amazing.

The Rubik’s Cube is named for its creator, Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Emo Rubik, who invented the three dimensional puzzle in 1974. Rubik licensed the cube to be sold by the Ideal Toy Corp. in 1980, which released it internationally later that year. The puzzle became an instant pop culture sensation.

Though the puzzle doesn’t enjoy the same novelty status as it did in the 1980s, it’s still one of those things everyone instantly recognizes.

A cube with six sides with red, green, blue, yellow, orange and white squares. That’s a Rubik’s Cube, right? Well, it’s the standard variety, anyway. The cube also comes in other varieties, including an octagonal shape, which has its own competitive division, and once scrambled, the trick is to get each side filled with just one color.

Miller’s main mode of competition is in the standard 3-by-3 square variety, featuring nine squares on each side. He discovered the puzzle by mistake.

“It was in 2014,” he said. “My school at the time had a garage sale, and we bought a duffle bag of books.”

And tossed in among the books was a colorful cube.

“I didn’t know what it was, because I was really young,” Miller said. “I looked it up online, and I started watching a bunch of videos about it. I was really interested in it, but it took a few months before I started getting hands on and working with it.”

Then came Christmas, when Santa left Miller some Rubik’s Cubes under the tree. The kid was already pretty good at solving the puzzle by that time, and he entered his first competition in January 2015 in Austin, Texas.

“I was supposed to go to world championships in The Netherlands in 2022, but unfortunately, it got canceled,” he said. “So, my only international competition has been in Canada.”

Miller competes in the World Cube Association, where he’s recently picked up a second division in the 12-sided cube, called the Megaminx.

All cubes used in competition are different from those sold in department store toy sections. Those used in competition are engineered for speed.

Miller has won prizes a couple of times, but says those prizes don’t necessarily involve money.

“That’s not really what most competitions do,” he said. “The World Cube Association is a nonprofit, so most competition money that they make ends up going back into the nonprofit, because it helps the community grow. So, the association doesn’t give out cash prizes, but third-party retailers will sponsor them, and people will get gift cards or certificates, trophies and other nice stuff for fun.”

But working the Rubik’s Cube is more than fun for Miller. Practice and competition also has given him confidence, which he applies in other parts of his life.

“Cubing taught me how to improve and stay dedicated to things,” he said. “For me, it’s always just been a reassurance that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. That’s what it’s really served as for me — learning something and getting better at it, and self-analyzing to get better.”

And he’s made new friends along the way.

“For me, the competitions are mainly a social thing, where you meet a bunch of people and talk about stuff you’re all interested in,” Miller said. “It’s really a great community, and I like being a part of it.”