Although he earned his degree from the University of Oregon in March, Los Altos native and Oregon jumper Drew Russert isn’t quite ready to hang up his spikes.
“I would like to reach some goals for next year,” said Russert, who has one more year of eligibility. “I’ve got some unfinished business I need to take care of.”
Russert capped his spring season by winning the men’s triple jump at the Oregon Twilight – his last meet on the school’s historic Hayward Field, which will be remodeled this summer. His jump of 46 feet, 8.75 inches was a personal best.
Well before he began jumping with some of the best in the Pac-12, Russert found his love for track and field at the Los Altos School District’s annual Junior Olympics for elementary students.
“I was big on making the relay team back then,” Russert recalled. “It was a popular event in elementary school and it managed to carry through middle school.”
Russert started to get serious about the sport in high school, fully committing himself to track and field during his junior year at Mountain View High.
“I stopped playing (every) other sport,” he said. “I quit football, I quit basketball and just focused on track because I wanted to compete at the college level.”
The devotion paid off.
Russert’s personal record in the triple jump increased by nearly 3 feet from 2012 to 2013, according to his athletic.net profile.
Russert said several colleges recruited him, but the one he chose was not among them.
“I was accepted to the University of Oregon for general admission,” he said. “So I thought maybe I’d go there for academic purposes.”
A co-worker of his parents reached out to Russert and offered him the opportunity to train that summer in Portland if he wanted to try to walk on to the team.
“I was a little bit shocked and a little bit in disbelief,” he said of getting the chance to walk on. “The University of Oregon track team is so prestigious. … So the fact that someone could even consider me was pretty shocking.”
Russert didn’t make the cut, but he wasn’t giving up on track. He looked to his backup plan: Lane Community College in Eugene. Russert ran with the track team while dually enrolled at the University of Oregon from 2014 to 2016.
“It was probably one of the best track teams in terms of culture and vibe,” Russert said of his time at Lane. “I stuck with Lane for two years, and it paid off because I was able to develop my skills a little more to properly walk on to the UO track team my junior year and start training there.”
Grady O’Connor, Lane’s track coach at the time, said Russert approached the sport with a “first in, last out” mentality.
“You could tell he was all-in,” said O’Connor, who retired from coaching in 2017. “He wasn’t going to cut corners to reach his ultimate goal of wearing the green and gold.”
Russert made the Oregon team in 2017 but sat it out as a redshirt, then competed in the triple jump last season.
After graduating from Oregon with a degree in graphic design, Russert has remained in Eugene as an intern at TrackTown USA, a nonprofit organization that hosts track and field events. He intends to apply to the master’s program in sports product design at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus.
“Hopefully, then I can work at a big facility like Nike or Adidas,” Russert said. “That’d be really cool because I’m studying graphic design and I want to be a creative director or be in creative services.”