A rare breed at any level of competition, three-sport athlete Travis Olson of the Class of 1998 was a key contributor to Linfield’s football, basketball and track and field programs, earning 10 varsity letters over the course of his Wildcat career.
Yet Olson’s path nearly took a vastly different turn. Recruited by the University of Oregon to play football, the Klamath Falls native turned down a scholarship from the Ducks, choosing instead to pursue both basketball and track at Linfield. Stronger than the appeal of playing for a Division I program was Olson’s desire to participate in preseason basketball activities, an experience that would have been hindered by football commitments.
Olson suited up four years for the Wildcat basketball squad, seeing action in a total of 102 games. As his role and minutes steadily increased, so did his scoring average. As a full-time starter during his senior campaign, he led the team with a career-high 13.1 points per game to go along with 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Springtime, however, was when Olson truly shined. It should come as no surprise that he excelled in multiple events, qualifying for the NAIA Championships in the decathlon, high jump, javelin, discus and pole vault.
He was a six-time NAIA All-American, achieving that status three times in the javelin, twice in high jump and once in the decathlon. Olson was a two-time national runner-up in the javelin, and still ranks fourth all-time in Linfield history in his specialty event.
He holds a total of five top-10 marks in the Wildcat record books, including the third-best effort in the high jump, sixth-farthest discus toss, sixth-highest decathlon score and eighth-greatest pole vault clearance. His six All-American citations rank second in program history.
Despite keeping plenty busy with basketball and track, midway through his Linfield career Olson was itching to play football again. The former high school quarterback and cornerback spent a summer working with former Oregon and NFL punter Tom Blanchard and turned out for the football squad in the fall of his junior year. He played two seasons for the Wildcats as a punting specialist, helping the program extend its all-divisional record for most consecutive winning seasons to 41.
After graduating with a degree in finance, Olson began giving back to Linfield, transferring his talents to the coaching ranks. During his 12 seasons as Linfield’s assistant cross country and track and field coach, he, quite fittingly, mentored the multi-faceted decathletes, including NCAA champion Josh Lovell. Olson took over the reins of both programs in 2010. His teams have consistently placed in the upper half of the Northwest Conference, including a third-place finish in women’s track this past spring.
Olson resides in McMinnville with his wife of five years, Maridee, and their two daughters, Bailee (9) and Olivia (1).