For the first time since the mens' track and field program was cut in 1988, Oregon St. will be represented in a track meet this Saturday, when six members of the football team travel with Laura Carlyle and Abby Chesimet of the womens' team, who are entered in the mile, to compete in the Husky Indoor Classic in Seattle at the University of Washington.
James Rogers, Keynan Parker, and Rashaad Reynolds are entered in the 60 meter sprint, and Jordan Bishop and Obum Gwacham will compete in the high jump. Marcus Wheaton was also entered in the 60 meters, but due to a schedule conflict, won't be able to compete.
While Athletic Director Bob De Carolis cautioned that "This should not be considered a sign that a men's track program at OSU is imminent," he did describe the event as "An opportunity for several of our current student-athletes to maximize their experiences as a student-athlete."
Women's track and cross country coach Kelly Sullivan organized the workouts for the football student-athletes competing this weekend, and has the full support of football coach Mike Riley.
Sullivan and the six will re-evaluate after the meet, and determine which meet to point to next."Coach Riley and I have been discussing this possibility for a couple of years now, but it really has materialized over this winter," Sullivan said. "It is amazing just how gifted these athletes are, and it's going to be a special moment to see OSU men back in action representing the sport of track."
"These guys like the competition, it's good training, and I wholeheartedly support it," Riley added. "This will not interfere in any way on how they participate in spring practice; in fact it will help them be in better shape when we start next month."
"I can't wait to compete in a meet again," Bishop said. "I'm truly excited about the opportunity; it's been too long away from the sport," Bishop, who clearly missed not competing in track last spring for the first time. In 2008, Bishop was the Oregon state long jump champion, and placed second in the high jump and 400 meters, while at West Salem High School.
Rodgers hasn't competed since the 2007 Texas state meet, where he was the highest point scoring individual. Wheaton was a member of the Chandler High 4x100 meter relay team that holds the Arizona state record.
Nike is on board, with a special order for some "OS" track uniforms on the way.
Bishop and Reynolds initially sparked the idea back when they were being recruited, as both voiced an interest in competing in track as well as football. "They were both excellent track athletes, who, as it turned out, also happen to be great football players as well," Sullivan noted.
Sullivan credited the six athletes as the driving force behind the effort, noting "If there had been any uncertainty on their part, this wouldn't have happened. But they are completely behind it."
Saturday will bring a renewed meaning to the phrase "Go Beavs!"