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DEFYING GRAVITY

David Schiffer put together one of the most notable track and field careers in Forest Grove history by winning two high jump titles and placing six times at the state meet in the 1980s


Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES FILE PHOTO - David Schiffer claimed back-to-back Class AAA high jump state titles for Forest Grove in 1987 and 1988 and set multiple school records in the jumping events.David Schiffer is one talented guy.

In high school, he played tuba in the marching band, started for the basketball team by his sophomore year, and won the lead role in Forest Grove High School’s musical as a senior.

He is also handy with numbers. After graduating from Forest Grove in 1988, he earned his college degree in resource economics and eventually became the finance director for Oregon Community Credit Union.

“He was exceptional, but the thing that was amazing, encouraging and discouraging all at the same time for a head coach is David is what I would call a renaissance kid in that he had so many things going on,” said Gordon Garlock, Forest Grove’s track and field head coach during Schiffer’s final three years at the school.

Given his wide array of talents, it is perhaps fitting that Schiffer excelled in not just one or two events in track and field. Rather, he was a phenomenal performer in all three jumping events and could even contribute a solid relay leg when called upon.

Schiffer provided the Vikings with plenty of highlights during his high school career — including four individual league titles — but he shined brightest at the Class AAA track and field state meet. In 1987, he became the first Forest Grove boy in nearly 50 years to capture a state title, which he did in the high jump. He also pulled off the rare and challenging task of scoring in all three jumps.

And then he repeated all of that in 1988, graduating as a two-time state champion and six-time state meet placer.

For his accomplishments, Schiffer has been selected to the fifth class of the high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The class will officially be inducted during a banquet ceremony Oct. 4 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains.

“I was so humbled and so honored,” said Schiffer, who now lives in Springfield, about his selection for the hall. “I have to say … 25 years — I was just kind of like, ‘I’m surprised people remember my name.’”

Actually, after all Schiffer accomplished, his name should be a challenge to forget. Though he graduated more than a quarter-century ago, his high school marks would still put him in the running for state titles today. And his high jump personal record of 6 feet, 10¾ inches — which he set at an indoor meet in Idaho as a senior — still ranks among the top 20 or so all-time performances in Oregon preps history.

When it came to Schiffer’s talent for jumping, his precocity would prove to match his versatility, as he turned into a budding superstar as a freshman.

Before that, growing up in Cornelius, he participated in a few summer all-comers meets at Hare Field in Hillsboro, but he did not truly start to apply himself to track until his eighth grade year at Neil Armstrong, when he was already almost grown to his full height of 6-foot-2.

Even early on, the high jump captured his attention.

“[I] gave it a whirl and just fell in love with it,” Schiffer said. “It was just a cool event, and by that point [I] realized I’ve got a little bit of spring here. I can get up and get over that thing.”

Indeed, Schiffer had bounce — he could dunk a basketball by January of his freshman year. In the spring, he came under the tutelage of Forest Grove jumps coach Don Adams, whom Garlock would have put up against any jumps coach in the state at the time.

The pairing was a good one.

“For me, that was the big thing, was that he really spent time on the mechanics and getting the steps down,” Schiffer said.

But Schiffer was also an apt and willing pupil.Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES FILE PHOTO - David Schiffer was always a threat in the long, triple and high jumps during his four-year career at Forest Grove.

“Because he was spread so thin with all those other things, he would come out and make the most of his practice time and could pick up things rather rapidly,” Garlock recalled.

The young jumper posted some of the best freshman marks in Oregon that spring, clearing 6-4 in the high jump, eclipsing 42 feet in the triple jump and 20 feet in the long jump, and narrowly missing a trip to state.

But Hayward Field was not far in the offing. As a sophomore at the Willamette Valley League district meet, Schiffer lost out on a high jump berth to a teammate in a jump-off, but he did finish second in the triple jump to make state.

“I had never been to UO before,” Schiffer noted. “You walk into the hallowed grounds of Hayward Field, and it is pretty moving when you see something like that for the first time when you love track so much.”

Though he did not place, that early big-meet experience would serve him well. Forest Grove moved to the ultra-competitive Metro League the next school year — an experience Schiffer described as “eye-opening” for sports — but he was up for the challenge, winning the district triple jump title and finishing second in the long and high jumps.

And then on the first day of the state meet at Hayward Field, he was magic.

Not necessarily the favorite going into the high jump, Schiffer emerged as the best competitor on the day, going cleanly through 6-8 to equal his personal best.

Though several others cleared 6-7, no one could match him, making Schiffer the first Viking boy to claim a state championship since Francis Schultz won the 100- and 220-yard dashes in 1938.

Schiffer then continued to entwine his career with that of Schultz by bombing out to 23-2¾ in the long jump, breaking Schultz’ 50-year-old school record by less than an inch en route to a third-place finish.

“I was so pumped up after the high jump, I didn’t know if I was ever going to come down,” Schiffer told the Register-Guard, Eugene’s newspaper, at the time. “I felt right on. I felt good about it.”

On the second day of the meet, Schiffer cemented his status as one of the state’s best all-around jumpers with a fourth place in the triple jump, leading Forest Grove to a 10th-place finish in the overall standings.

After all of that success, Schiffer was eager for his senior year and had designs on winning all three jumps at state. Along the way back to Hayward Field, he set a meet record in the long jump and was named the outstanding male athlete at the Elden Kellar Invitational in Hillsboro. He also won all three jumps at the Metro district tilt, setting a meet standard of 23-3 in the long jump.

And in Eugene, while he did not quite reach his goal, he still turned in a top-shelf performance, first and foremost in the high jump.

Despite competing in swirling wind conditions, once again, Schiffer was just a bit better than everyone else, clearing 6-10 to top Bend’s Chris Halleman, who went a solid 6-9 for second place.

“It’s a lot easier to become a champion than to defend it,” Garlock told the News-Times at the time.

Schiffer finished sixth that day in the long jump and then third in the triple jump the following day to conclude a stellar high school career. After that, he moved on to Oregon, competing for the Ducks for three years before taking a break from school and completing his degree at Oregon State in 1994.

Married to his wife, Rachel, and the father of four children, Schiffer lives not far from the site of some of his greatest successes in athletics. And he still remembers what it was about high jumping that captured him.

“It’s just that experience of defying gravity,” Schiffer said. “I just always loved that about the high jump, that whole concept of defying gravity.”

He did that far better than most.




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