Despite growing up near a track and field powerhouse, Harrison Schrage will be traveling across the country to compete in college.
The jumper and sprinter from Portland (Ore.) Grant High School lives only two hours away from Oregon’s campus. Instead of staying home, though, Schrage will head to Arkansas in the fall.
Schrage, who has already signed, said the Razorbacks first caught his attention during his freshman year of high school.
“I went to watch only one college track meet at Oregon and Arkansas was there,” Schrage said. “They were wrecking Oregon in the sprints and jumps. I went to go watch Oregon because, obviously, they’re the powerhouse and all that, but I was really surprised with what I saw from the Razorbacks.”
That impression stuck with Schrage as he began reaching out to coaches to start the recruiting process his sophomore year. Of course, by then, he was making a pretty good impression to programs across the country with his performance on the track.
Among the coaches interested in his talents was Arkansas assistant coach Travis Geopfert, who coaches jumps, throws and multi-event athletes for the Razorbacks.
“I watched videos of this guy and I’m like, ‘This guy is good,’” Geopfert said. “I liked his demeanor and I loved his attitude and desire to be great.”
After becoming the first freshman to win the big-school long jump state championship, Schrage won it again as a sophomore with a jump of 24 feet, 1 1/2 inches. He was officially a hot commodity.
“At that point, I could contact pretty much any college I wanted and they’d respond,” Schrage said. “I was in contact with a lot of the really big track powerhouses, but during my junior year, my ankle got injured.”
The injury – a left ankle sprain, which was on his plant leg – caused him to lose an inch on his long jump. While it was still enough to win his third straight state title, several college coaches lost interest in him, as the junior year is typically when they make their assessments.
However, Geopfert didn’t jump ship like most other coaches.
“I think the injuries scared a lot of programs away, to be honest,” Geopfert said. “We’ve all been through it, dealing with injuries, but you look at his motivation, you knew he wanted to be good. There was something about him that made us feel like he was going to overcome those injuries.”
Following his junior year, Schrage had surgery to fix his ankle. It turns out that he had os trigonum syndrome – basically, he was born with an extra bone in his ankle, which was causing the pain.
Even after the repairs were made, he remained a question mark to most coaches, although that didn’t really matter after he visited Arkansas.
Schrage’s trip to Fayetteville last fall was his first official visit and it far exceeded his expectations.
He was in town for the unveiling of the Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center and got to take in a football game, while also learning about the track program’s national championship tradition.
“It really blew me away,” Schrage said. “I loved the campus and I loved the track facilities and academic center. It just felt like the perfect environment for me to succeed as a track athlete and as a student.”
Schrage is planning on studying business and economics in school, so the Walton College of Business was another strong selling point for the Razorbacks.
He still took a visit to Michigan, but it didn’t take him long to realize that Arkansas set the bar so high that other visits would be useless. While the hometown Oregon Ducks weren’t recruiting him that hard, Geopfert flew up to Portland to see him, so Schrader committed and signed with the Razorbacks only a few months later.
The risk Arkansas took in staying after him despite the injury paid off this spring. Schrage became the first athlete in Oregon history to win four consecutive titles in a single event in the big-school division, jumping 24 feet, 3 inches.
He also won the triple jump and finished runner-up in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, scoring 36 points for his team. That would have placed him tied for fifth in the team standings alone, but his teammates contributed another six points to finish third.
With personal bests of 24-11 1/4 (indoor) and 24-9 1/2 (outdoor) in the long jump, 49-8 in the triple jump, 6.86 seconds in the 60-meter dash, 10.70 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 21.73 seconds in the 200-meter dash, Schrage said he hopes to do a little bit of everything at Arkansas.
“The way that we kind of talked about it while I was on my visit, they saw me as more of a long jumper and then a sprinter,” Schrage said. “But at that point, my triple jump hadn’t been that good, but now my PR has improved by a lot and maybe they can consider me as more of a serious triple jumper, as well.”
In between regular training and competing in the U.S. Junior Championships in California, Schrage is also going to give the decathlon a shot.
It may seem lofty to believe he could continue doing such a variety of events in college, but when he makes the trek down to Eugene, Ore., to watch Arkansas at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, he’ll see someone doing something similar.
Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson will be competing in four events: long jump, 100-meters, 200-meters and 4x100-meter relay.
“Jarrion is a crazy athlete,” Schrage said. “I look at somebody like Jarrion and I always think he’s crazy, but it also gets me really hyped and excited for my future.”