Russ Jewett doesn’t spend much time looking at the trophies and awards that line his office walls. After nearly 30 years of leading Pittsburg State’s men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams, there are almost too many to count.

His women’s cross country teams have earned nine MIAA titles, including the 2017 MIAA Championship, and 11 trips to the NCAA Division II National Championships. His men’s track and field teams have earned 11 MIAA outdoor titles, and four MIAA indoor crowns. And his women’s track and field teams have won five MIAA indoor titles, 10 MIAA outdoor titles and the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championship — the first in university history.

Jewett, who has been named MIAA Coach of the Year 38 times during his tenure, says when he does take time to reflect, it’s rarely about the actual competition.

“I think about the team,” said Jewett. “I try to remember the people who were on that particular team and what they accomplished together. They become like family. I sometimes wonder what they’re doing now.”

Jewett understands the special bond that develops within a team because he’s experienced it himself.

Recruited as a half-miler and a hurdler by legendary PSU head coach David Suenram, Jewett first stepped foot onto campus in the fall of 1979. He didn’t know it then, but meeting Suenram would change his life.

“He was almost like a second father to me,” Jewett said. “After experiencing track and field under him, I knew that just going out and making money for a living wasn’t going to do it for me. I wanted to be a coach.”

Jewett’s coaching philosophy stems directly from his mentors. But he doesn’t consider it “old school.”

“I don’t think the ‘old-school’ I had as an athlete would be very productive today,” said Jewett. “I’m talking about where the coach smiled one time a year and there was no messing around. If you came into this program you’d see that it’s okay to have fun as long as we get the job done. Of course, we want everybody to be accountable, and everybody to pull their weight so from a work-ethic standpoint; yeah, we’re still ‘old-school’ there.”

That type of flexibility and drive are exactly why some of the nation’s best student-athletes are attracted to PSU. Emily Iverson of Grove, Oklahoma, who in 2017 captured the NCAA Division II National Championship in the high jump, loves Jewett’s coaching philosophy.

“As a coach’s kid, I’ve grown up around athletics,” said Iverson. “He’s a very competitive man, but he puts a lot of care and a lot of trust into his athletes and his coaches. He talks a lot about family, and how we’re here to win and here to leave a legacy. That’s what he bases his program on, and I absolutely love it.”

It’s that type of attitude that has allowed Jewett’s program, and the student-athletes and coaches within it, to maintain such a high-level of success for nearly three decades.

“You need to get up every day wanting to be the best you can be and wanting to help others be the best they can be,” Jewett. “Then, you surround yourself with good people. I’m fortunate to have some of the best coaches and administrators in the nation at Pitt State. When you put all of that together and add in a lot of hard work, you have the perfect formula.”