Lane Russell might not be the fastest or strongest high school triple jumper in Washington, and he knows he’s not the biggest.
But in mastering the complexities of the triple jump, it’s technique that matters, and right now, in this state, nobody does it better than Russell.
Russell, a 5-foot-8 senior at Tumwater High School, is the reigning Class 2A state triple jump champion. His 47-foot-1-inch performance at last spring’s state meet topped all classifications.
The honors student — he’ll compete for Princeton University next year — also is a dedicated student of the event that used to be known as the hop, step and jump.
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“More than anything, it’s his determination and attention to detail,” Tumwater jump coach Tracy Johnson said. “He’s probably the most technically sound jumper in the state.”
Said Thunderbirds head coach Rich Brown: “He’s always been pretty natural at it, right out of the gate. He’s definitely talented, but he works hard, too. It’s something he’s passionate about, and he does it year-round.”
In Tumwater’s preseason workouts, Russell is not yet at full speed because of a
lingering hamstring injury that prevented him from defending his title at the Simplot Games, an elite high school indoor meet at Idaho State University in Pocatello.
At the Simplot Games in February 2013, before Russell’s junior season at Tumwater, he topped a strong field with a personal-record 49-1.
“That was really my best technical jump,” said Russell, who has video of it. “I still look at it, and when I’m getting ready for a meet, I envision that technique. I keep it on my phone and watch it a lot.”
Russell also is an accomplished long jumper — he earned a second-place medal at state last spring after breaking 22 feet — but he says he’ll never have the pure speed to beat the best guys in that event.
“In the triple jump, you’ve got to have the explosiveness, you’ve got to have the ability to maintain your velocity and still have strength at the end to go the distance,” Brown said.
“In the long jump, you can kind of skirt around (technique) with speed. In triple jump, you have a series of steps you go through. If you don’t have the strength, you’ll lose your velocity, and you’ll also lose your distance.”
Russell first got excited about the triple jump watching an older cousin, Allyssa Russell, compete in the event for Wilson High School.
In his freshman season and still new to the triple jump, Lane Russell reached 40 feet and then was forced to shut down because of injury. While he recovered, he focused on technique — “mostly so I wouldn’t get hurt again” — and by the end of that season, he reached 43-9.
As a sophomore, he finished second in the 2A state meet with a jump of 43-10.
Last spring, Russell led a 1-2-3 finish by 2A Evergreen Conference triple jumpers. Bryan Moon of W.F. West was second at 44-3, and Ryan Chase of Capital was third at 43-13/4.
Moon and Chase return to challenge Russell this season. Russell says teammate Trevor Davis, a junior, also is a state-caliber triple jumper.
Tumwater has another burgeoning triple jump standout in Russell’s sister, Peyton, who placed fifth at state last season in the 2A girls event as a ninth-grader. She emerged from the winter indoor season as the fourth-ranked sophomore triple jumper in the United States, according to DyeStat.com.
Now, her brother is doing everything his workout calls for, but not at full exertion, as he sets his sights on two national-level meets: the Arcadia Invitational, April 11-12 in Arcadia, Calif.; and the Oregon Relays, April 18-19 in Eugene.
“I think my goals would be higher if I hadn’t hurt myself, just because I really don’t know where I’m at right now,” he said.
Johnson said the ceiling for Russell is high — 52, 53, even 54 feet as he moves on to compete in college — if he can stay healthy.
Russell said he’s aiming for 50 feet this season, with his ultimate high school goal the overall state record of 50-91/4, set in 2011 by Kasen Williams of Skyline.
If Russell falls short, it won’t be for lack of preparation.
“I really do find the workouts cathartic,” he said. “I do a lot of studying, a lot of schoolwork, and the track is kind of my reprieve from that. I love it, absolutely.”
PREP track and field primer
Female athlete to watch
Brooke Feldmeier, sprints/hurdles, Tumwater, sr.
Bound for Ole Miss next year, Feldmeier could leave as one of Thurston County’s all-time greats. Should she repeat her 2013 state performance — winning the Class 2A 100-meter hurdles, and 200 and 400 dashes — Feldmeier would graduate with six championships.
Other top female athletes
Karen Bulger, throws, Northwest Christian, sr.
Peyton Dungan, throws, Rainier, so.
Sofia Kane, distance, Olympia, sr.
Peyton Russell, jumps, Tumwater, so.
Lauren Pierson, distance, Capital, jr.
Kendra Sanford, hurdles, Rochester, jr.
Male athlete to watch
DeJuan Frye, sprints, River Ridge, jr.
You can’t talk about the top Class 2A sprinters without mentioning Frye. The third-place finisher in the 100 meters a year ago at state, he tends to rise up at the big meets. Frye also returns as part of the defending 2A state champion 400 relay team.
Other top male athletes
Ryan Chase, jumps/multi-event, Capital, jr.
James Jasperson, distance, North Thurston, sr.
Takumi Okuhira, pole vault, Black Hills, sr.
Lane Russell, jumps, Tumwater, sr.
Johnny Shields, hurdles, Timberline, sr.
Peter Kesting, distance, Olympia, jr.