16 Years, 3 Months And 6 Days

Sept. 8, 2004

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10Oregon State at Pier Park Invitational; Portland, Ore.; 4 p.m.

Sixteen years, three months and six days. That will be the gap between the last time a varsity runner wearing an Oregon State singlet toed a starting line and the beginning of Friday's Pier Park Invitational in Portland. The cross country meet involving OSU, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, St. Mary's (Calif.) and Western Oregon marks the revival of OSU's women's programs in cross country and track and field. Oregon State dropped its men's and women's teams in both the sports in 1988, making the NCAA Championships that spring the last time a Beaver had run a race - and the result was a national title in the men's 3000-meter steeplechase for Karl Van Calcar. No one is predicting a similar result this season, but you've got to start somewhere. 'I'm just excited to get going,' said OSU head coach Kelly Sullivan, who was hired in January to re-start the program. 'We've spent nine months waiting for this to actually happen, and last week I was like a kid in a candy store. It's fun. 'I told one of the ladies in the business office that it had been nine months, and she said, `That's like having a baby, except that instead of having one, you're having 25 of them'.' The Beavers begin their new program with 21 runners on hand for Friday's meet, with another four showing up later in September (OSU doesn't begin school until Sept. 27) due to internships or other work commitments. The Beavers have two seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and 12 freshmen on their roster; some were running competitively last spring and some haven't done so since their high school careers concluded several years ago. Oregon State's runners didn't report until Sept. 1, so Sullivan is still formulating how his first team - and OSU's first since the 1987-88 school year - shapes up. Sophomore Neoma Palmer (Portland, Ore./Catlin Gabel HS, Bowdoin Coll.) was a Division III All-American in cross country and indoor track last season. Freshman Kaitlin Poggi (Gladstone, Ore./Gladstone HS) is coming off an outstanding prep career. Sophomore Jean-Marie Peterson (Canby, Ore./Canby HS) was a highly-recruited runner out of high school who chose to enroll at OSU and didn't run competitively last season. 'Those are probably our top three kids, if I was to project,' Sullivan said. Junior Katie Magnuson (White Bear Lake, Minn./Rogers HS, Wash.) had a strong season for Oregon State's club team last year. Junior Ashley Younce (Portland, Ore./Sunset HS) was a fine prep runner but hasn't competed in three years. 'I think there's definitely some talent there,' Sullivan said. 'If we're going to have enough time in nine weeks to get ready? This is actually a really short calendar year for cross country, and that fact we're starting late ... it's a first step. It's as good as we could have expected under the circumstances.' Oregon State won't run its full lineup at the Pier Park Invitational; only about 15 Beavers will compete. Palmer recently had five wisdom teeth pulled and Magnuson is in the final stages of recovering from foot surgery. 'We're using it mainly for the ones who haven't competed in a while,' Sullivan said. 'The following week when we go to the Washington Invitational, we'll probably compete an additional three or four people ... we'll be kind of a partial team this weekend, but we're going to take everybody to the meet who is okay (with the NCAA) to travel and us it as kind of an icebreaker and also as a little bit of a time trial.' And a little bit of time travel - back to 1987-88. 'It's pretty cool,' Sullivan said of ending that gap in OSU's cross country and track history. 'We'll have a number of people there Friday night, and a number who would love to be there but will be at the football game at Boise State. I've gotten some e-mails and calls from people apologizing for not being there but I'm thrilled they'll be at the football game. I think as the year goes on, we'll build more interest from the alums.' But Friday will be the day that the rebirth of Oregon State running goes from theory to reality. 'It's Step One in being physically exposed,' Sullivan said. 'We'll literally have a team on the starting line instead of it just being talked about. I wish we were a little more prepared, I wish we were a little more ready, I wish we had all of them ready to run this first meet because it's so close to home and it's against three natural rivals. 'But we've also got to be really smart. We have some kids that we need to have ready the last week of October who, right now, are not ready to step on the line and next week they will be. People are going to have to be patient and realize we're in a long-term planning process instead of a short one.' OREGON STATE'S LATEST MEET: Oregon State last competed in cross country or track and field at the the 1988 NCAA Championships, which were held June 1-4 at Oregon's Hayward Field; OSU got a national title from Karl Van Calcar in the men's 3000-meter steeplechase and hammer thrower John Thomas earned All-America honors while high jumper Kim Fenton represented the women's team. The last cross country meet for the Beavers had been the 1987 NCAA Championships held Nov. 23 on Virginia's Foxfield Course; Van Calcar finished 26th. The last cross country meet for OSU's women was the NCAA Region 8 Championships held Nov. 14 at Fresno's Woodward Park; OSU placed last in the 15-team field and Oregon State's top finisher was Amy Petrone in 61st place. HEAD COACH KELLY SULLIVAN: Kelly Sullivan came to Oregon State in January, 2004 to re-start OSU's program after being head cross country and track and field coach at nearby Willamette University, a Division III school in Salem, Ore., since 1997. Sullivan was also an assistant coach at Auburn from 1984-96, and head coach at Clackamas Community College (Ore.) from 1980-84. Sullivan, 47, guided Willamette's teams to three top-10 national finishes in cross country and track and coached 23 All-Americans, including five individuals who won national championships. At Auburn, he coached 36 All-Americans and at Clackamas he coached 24 NJCAA All-Americans. Sullivan was an All-American in the steeplechase and cross country at Willamette before graduating in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in History and Education. A native of Nehalem, Ore., he graduated from Neah-Kah-Nie High. OREGON STATE TAKES TO THE ROAD: Oregon State will spend at least the first season of its revived cross country and track programs without a home course or track. The Beavers will run in one meet in Corvallis, the Oregon State Track Club Invitational at Avery Park on Oct. 23; that's during OSU's Homecoming Weekend.

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