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OSU Ready to Host First Meet in 25 Years

Courtesy: OSU Sports Information

CORVALLIS, Ore.– The long wait will finally be over this Saturday, when the Oregon State track & field program hosts Portland and Willamette for a meet at the school’s brand new Whyte Track & Field Center. The home event at the team’s state-of-the-art facility will be the first for the Beavers since 1988 and serve as tangible evidence of the program’s steady progress since its rebirth in 2004.

“It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s incredibly worth it,” Oregon State head coach Kelly Sullivan said of putting on this historic meet. “So much of it is for us to express our thanks to all our donors and to continue to put a light at the end of the tunnel for the alums. For our current team, they’re going to get an opportunity to experience something that an Oregon State track & field team hasn’t in 25 years – performing in front of their own crowd.”

The meet begins at 3 p.m. with the javelin followed by the shot put, high jump, long jump and triple jump. Field events will wrap up around 5:45 p.m. with the discus. Events on the track begin at 4:30 p.m. and will include the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 4×100-meter relay, 1,500 meters, 400 meters, 100 meters, 800 meters and 3,000 meters. The pole vault and hurdles will not be contested because the infrastructure needed for those events has not been completed. A full schedule can be found below.

Every event in the meet will have both male and female entries, except for the 3,000, which will feature only women and wrap up the evening’s action around 6:55 p.m. Oregon State will have a student-athlete entered in each of the individual women’s events (no relay). Additionally, football players Ryan Cope (100m and 400m) and Obum Gwacham (high jump) will also compete on the men’s side. Gwacham, who is redshirting this track & field season to focus on football, will participate unattached. Recognition for alumni in attendance will take place at 6:15 p.m.

“This is such a big step for the sport of track & field in the state of Oregon,” Sullivan added. “This whole project has been about making people aware, almost like a constant education. The best way for people to be educated on what’s really happening is to physically be here and see what is in place and see what isn’t. The time and effort that goes into putting on a meet speaks volumes of this staff and this athletic department. I’m hoping people that have an opportunity to contribute or be a part of this will recognize that Oregon State is committed to this process.”

The meet will be scored as a dual between Oregon State and Portland on the women’s side, Portland and Willamette on the men’s side and will have the NCAA-mandated 10 events necessary to be considered a countable meet.

Willamette University, which has years of valuable experience running successful track & field meets, is helping Oregon State co-host this historic event. On Friday, the Bearcats will hold the hammer throw at their facility since that portion of the Whyte Track & Field Center remains unfinished and Willamette will also be bringing its timing system to Corvallis for the meet. Live stats will be available at http://live.willamettetrack.com/osu/.

Portland head coach Rob Conner was one of Kelly Sullivan’s first recruits when he ran for the current Beaver boss from 1981-83 in cross country and track & field at Clackamas Community College, in what was Sullivan’s first college coaching gig. Sullivan is a Willamette graduate (1979) and coached his alma mater from 1997 to 2004 before taking over at Oregon State. Current Willamette head coach Matt McGuirk was Sullivan’s only full time assistant during those years and took over the Bearcats’ head job upon Sullivan’s departure.

The event on Saturday is free and open to the public. Temporary stands have been put in place to accommodate expected crowds. Fans wishing to attend the meet can park for free in the gravel lot by the track or in the business complex at the corner of 15th and Western on the north side of the facility. The Whyte Track and Field Center entrance is located east of the 26th and Western intersection, between the Hilton Garden Inn and the OSU Softball Complex.

The momentous day is also drawing some illustrious names back to Corvallis. Among the many expected to attend include former head coach Berny Wagner, serving as an emeritus official for the high jump, Tim Fox, a two-time All-American in the discus who finished third at the NCAA’s in 1979 (201’ 7”) and fifth in 1980 (186’ 0”), and Kam Johnson, Oregon State’s record-holder in the shot put when she threw 50’ ½” on April 14, 1984.

Jim Whyte, the project’s lead benefactor and a former student-athlete, will also be in the crowd tomorrow, returning from business halfway across the globe solely to witness this occasion.

The meet will have upwards of 70 volunteer officials, many from the Oregon Track Club who will be bringing their own equipment to ensure the day runs smoothly. Tom Heinonen and Matt Jarvis will serve as announcers on Saturday. Heinonen coached the women’s track & field and cross country teams at Oregon for 27 years, winning three national titles, and is a USTFCCCA Hall of Fame member. Jarvis, a veteran announcer of numerous NCAA meets at Hayward Field, was last on Oregon State’s campus when he served as the voice of a Beaver home meet at Bell Field in 1972.

Oregon State enters Saturday with a 3-2 dual meet record on the year. The Beavers defeated Portland in the Willamette Opener on March 2 and downed the Pilots and Seattle University at the Oregon Preview. OSU came up short in its dual scores against Portland State and the Ducks at Hayward Field last weekend.

The recently completed first phase of Oregon State’s construction project was officially unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September and features an IAAF-certified Olympic-caliber surface, FieldTurf infield, nine-lane track, high jump aprons, long jump and triple jump runways, pole vault and javelin runways, shot put area throw sectors and dual discus rings. Phase II, for which fundraising it still ongoing, consists of a larger portion of the infrastructure needed to host a meet – grandstands and hammer facility and equipment like hurdles, a pole vault pit and timing system.

Historical Significance

Oregon State’s program was discontinued after the 1988 season before being resurrected under the direction of Sullivan in 2004.

At the 1988 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Karl Val Calcar won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase title with a time of 8:32.35 on the night of June 3. It would be the last race a Beaver would run. Earlier that afternoon, Kim Fenton finished 14th in the high jump with a leap of 5’ 9¾”, becoming the last Oregon State female student-athlete to don the Orange & Black. The next afternoon, on Saturday, June 4, John Thomas earned All-America honors in the hammer with a toss of 205-10 in the final appearance by an OSU student-athlete in track & field competition.

Patrick Wayne Valley Field

OSU has not hosted a track meet since the Oregon Senior The Athletics Congress (TAC) Championships were held at Patrick Wayne Valley Field in 70-degree conditions on June 11, 1988. That event was used mainly as an opportunity for athletes to qualify for the US Olympic Trials held in Indianapolis, Ind. the following month and as a final tune-up for those who had already qualified.

In what was largely a throws and jumps meet, the celebrated Crouser brothers all participated on the Saturday afternoon. Mitch, an alternate on the 1984 US Olympic Team, won the discus with a throw of 207′ 2″. Dean, a two-time NCAA champion in the discus and once in the 16-pound shot put, finished third in the javelin behind brother Brian (262′ 1″), who won two NCAA javelin titles and competed for Team USA in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

Lance Deal, a 1996 Olympic silver medalist, won the hammer that day with a throw of 248′ 2″. He also competed in the 1988, 1992, and 2000 Summer Olympics. He was followed in the event by John McArdle (235′ 6″), who qualified for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. In the same event, Oregon State’s John Thomas broke the school record when he threw 66.72m.

The impressive roster of athletes also included Tim Bright, who finished fourth in the discus, second in the long jump and first in the 110-meter high hurdles. Bright represented the US in the decathlon at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and the 1987 World Championships. He won the American national championships in decathlon in 1987. He also became American champion in pole vault in 1991 and 1992 and competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for Team USA.

Shannon Sullivan, Oregon State school-record holder in the pole vault threw shot that day as well.

The last solely collegiate meet was the Beaver Twilight on May 26, 1988, which was a last-chance event for those attempting to qualify for the NCAA National Championships held in Eugene from June 1-4.

Finally, the last time Oregon State’s women hosted Portland in Corvallis was on May 7, 1988. That day, the Beavers’ Beth Nygren set the school record in the discus when she threw 155’ 2”, besting Lori Souza’s mark of 154’ 10”, which Souza had reached earlier that season during a March 26 dual with Fresno State in California.

Full Schedule

FIELD EVENTS

3:00 p.m. — W/M Combined Javelin

4:00 p.m. — W/M Combined Shot Put

4:00 p.m. — W High Jump; M to follow

4:00 p.m. — W/M Combined Long Jump

5:00 p.m. — W/M Combined Triple Jump

5:45 p.m. — W/M Combined Discus

TRACK EVENTS

4:30 p.m. — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase

4:50 p.m. — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

5:10 p.m. — Women’s 4 x 100m Relay

5:15 p.m. — Men’s 4 x 100m Relay

5:25 p.m. — Women’s 1500m

5:35 p.m. — Men’s 1500m (two sections)

5:50 p.m. — Women’s 400m

5:55 p.m. — Men’s 400m (two sections)

6:05 p.m. — Women’s 100m

6:10 p.m. — Men’s 100m

6:15 p.m. — Alumni/Community Recognition

6:35 p.m. — Women’s 800m

6:45 p.m. — Men’s 800m (two sections)

6:55 p.m. — Women’s 3000m

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