Hayward Field has always been considered one of the greatest track and field venues in the world. The nearly century old historic field has housed some of the most famous Oregon athletes of all time. Now two more runners, Trent Warren and Casey Campbell, can add their names to the list of athletes who have competed for the Oregon track and field team. But the path to becoming NCAA Division I runners was an unusual one for both Warren, a junior, and Campbell, who is in his fourth year. They started their journey as part of the Oregon club running team, eventually working hard enough to walk-on as Division I athletes.
Making the jump from club runner to the track team is an impressive feat. Club running coach Tom Heinonen has only witnessed four runners in his 10 years who were able to do it.
“Two of them should have been on the team to start with,” Heinonen said. “The other two, Trent and Casey, they earned their way on.”
While on the club team, the two were able to develop their skills as runners in a more relaxed environment. Eventually through hard work and determination, both Warren and Campbell were able to make the jump to the track team. Though both took different routes to get there.
Warren had to focus on increasing his personal training to improve his skills as a runner in order to make the transition. Which was something he wanted to do from the very beginning. Always viewing himself as a low mileage guy during training, Warren had to make a commitment to start running further distances. By doubling the amount of miles he ran, he was able to improve his times across the board, earning his way onto the team.
Campbell’s journey was much different because after high school he had no plans to run competitively, something he had given up after struggling through a couple of meets. Instead Campbell focused on his studies while joining the club team to allow himself to keep running in a low pressure environment.
“While on the club team I decided that I still loved running competitively,” Campbell said. “After some encouragement from people on the team I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to walk on.”
Now both have the chance to represent their school come spring when they compete for the Ducks. Warren runs the 800 and 1500, while Campbell runs the 1500 and 5k. Training has increased, as has the pressure that has been placed on them.
“Running here is like a job,” Warren said. “You finish your classes for the day and then you are off to practice, which is usually a couple of hours.”
The two spend their days attending class, doing schoolwork or training, with not much room for anything else. They have learned the importance of balancing the work load and not procrastinating on their homework lest they fall behind.
“Getting the proper amount of sleep is key,” Campbell said.
Despite the increase in their work load and the stress they face from school, the two love being a part of Oregon track and field. On the team there is a focus on contributing to the cause. Each athlete focuses on not only their individual goals, but also the team goals.
“We are all very competitive as a team,” Warren said when asked about the camaraderie the track team shares. “We are all going for that NCAA championship title.”
Follow Chris Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur