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Track and Field Star Ranks Among California's Best
Track and Field Star Ranks Among California's Best

Drew Xandrine-Anderson, who entered Stuart Hall High School with no experience on the track, leaves as the second best triple jumper in the state and is bound for UC Davis.

Two weeks after graduating from Stuart Hall, Drew Xandrine-Anderson reached yet one more milestone in his improbable high school career as a triple jumper. He recorded his second best jump ever to finish second overall in the California state track and field championship, a true statewide competition where student-athletes compete against other top performers in the state regardless of school size. Of the 26 triple jumpers who qualified for the state meet, Drew leapt an astounding 48-11.75 inches and held the lead going into the final round.

The path to the state championship this season began four years ago when Drew entered Stuart Hall High School intending to focus on basketball. "Coach Buckley presented me with the idea to run track and I accepted," Drew said at a recent press conference where he signed a letter of intent to attend UC Davis this fall. "Since then he's had lots of confidence in me and I've had lots of confidence in myself."

As a freshman, Drew only broke 40 feet in the triple jump once and did so at the league championship meet. To his surprise, it was good enough to win the event and push Stuart Hall past Lick-Wilmerding for the first league title in school history, said track and field coach and Stuart Hall social science teacher Mike Buckley.

Since his freshman year, Drew has improved his personal best jump by, on average, three feet each year, which according to Mike is an "extraordinary figure for a jumper at his level." When Drew had breakout performances at early season invitational meets this year, Mike knew he had a chance to go a long way in the postseason. Drew won the Simplot Games, which is one of the best indoor meets in the country and then finished as runner-up at the Stanford Invitational, one of the top outdoor events in the region.

As the season progressed, Drew jumped further still. He won all three of his jumps at the Bay Counties League West championship, leading Stuart Hall to capture its second straight league title and third overall. In what has become an annual occurrence for Drew, he qualified for the North Coast Section Class A meet, which is the first round of sectional competition for schools with fewer than 525 students, and leapt 49-01.75 inches in the triple jump, a new personal record. That jump set a NCS Class A triple jump record and was a top-10 distance nationally at the time. Not only did Drew win the meet and defend his title for the third year in a row, but also his heroics contributed significantly to a team championship. It was Stuart Hall's second consecutive NCS Class A title.

"He's a reflection of exactly what we're hoping to accomplish as a team," Mike said. "Talent is wonderful, but talent nurtured with hard work, exacting attention to detail and progressive, patient training is ideal."

Drew qualified for the state meet by finishing second in the next round of NCS competition known as the Meet of Champions. After performing well enough on the opening day of the state meet to qualify for the finals, Drew needed one of his best jumps to challenge for the title, and in the end, that's exactly what he did – but not without some nervous moments. His first two jumps were not particularly good, Mike said. But on his third attempt, Drew launched himself into the lead with an eye-popping jump of 48-11.75. The lead held for the next two rounds before, in his final attempt, Ron Smith of St. Mary's College High School in Berkeley captured the edge by half an inch – about the width of a thumb. Drew had one more chance to match or beat Ron, but came up just short.

If his immense success as a triple jumper isn't enough, Drew also excelled in high jump and long jump. In total, he was named all-league 10 times in four different events and won seven league titles in three events. Drew said he had a great official visit to UC Davis and if his rapid rise from beginner to the top of the California rankings is any indication, he will creep, or bound, even further into the sand pit at the next level.