The latest step forward in the rebirth of a full-service Oregon State track & field program takes place Saturday when the Beavers play host to a three-way meet with the University of Portland and Willamette.

It’s been a quarter century since OSU last held a home meet. This will be first ever at the Beavers’ brand new Whyte Track & Field Center.

“It’s been a journey,” said OSU coach Kelly Sullivan, who has been shepherding it for nine years.

OSU went without the sport for 16 seasons before bringing in Sullivan to start a women’s distance program in 2004. It was slow going because the Beavers were under-funded and operating without a facility.

Six years ago, OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis gave the go-ahead to build a track if the money could be raised. It could, it was, and the Beavers cut the ribbon at the Whyte Center in September. Now, they’re going to break it in.

The Whyte Center has a nine-lane track with an IAAF-certified Olympic-caliber polyurethane surface.

The Beavers will be without a few things when the meet gets rolling at 3 p.m. with the men’s and women’s javelin competition.

The grandstands, scoreboard, press box, hammer area all are missing and scheduled for Phase 2 of the project.

At the moment, OSU doesn’t have hurdles either. There is no pole vault pit. Willamette is bringing in the timing system, and staging meet’s the hammer competition on Friday afternoon in Salem.

But it’s a start.

“We’ll have a couple heats in the 800, a couple in the 15, and full events in the jumps and throws,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to be a decent little meet. It will be enough to see what we have, and what will work. I have my fingers crossed that we have all the wiring.”

Sullivan has scheduled a second meet for April 26. He expects athletes from several schools to attend, including some from Oregon who won’t be at the Penn Relays or the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford that weekend.

“Oregon asked if we would be willing to put on a meet that weekend,” Sullivan said. “We hadn’t had plans. But once they asked, it became more important. It will be nice to have Oregon be a part of this. From day 1, they have been incredibly cordial.”

In the meantime, Sullivan has moved away from the OSU’s distance base by adding some jumpers and throwers.

Freshman Michele Turney shattered a 29-year-old school record in the triple jump by leaping 38 feet 6 1/4 at last week’s Oregon Preview. Sara Almen high jumped 5-11 1/4 indoors.

In February, the Beavers signed nationally recruited distance runners Holly Cavalluzzo and Kristiane Width, both from New York, and Melissa Ausman, who threw the discus nearly 150 feet as a junior at Nyssa High School.

OSU has had an unofficial men’s team made up of moonlighting football players in recent years.

Sullivan said only kicker Ryan Cope plans to compete this year. He is a hurdler. Receiver Obum Gwacham, a seven-foot-plus high jumper, plans to redshirt.

Phase 3 of Oregon State’s track revival will be the official return of a men’s team.


Beavers Vaulter Magazine
Beavers Vaulter Magazine

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