One of the recruiting promises Oregon State football player Jordan Bishop and others heard from the coaches was he could compete in track and field during the spring.

The only problem was there was no men's track team. Steps have been taken to change that, but it's somewhere down the line.

Bishop was a track star for West Salem High, and the sport is still important to him. During the first two years with the Beavers, Bishop and Canadian standout Keynan Parker kept asking about when the men's track team would compete.

To fill the void until the program is ready, women's track coach Kelly Sullivan decided to help football players who want to compete on a part-time basis.

He put together a group of six for the Husky Classic in Seattle on Friday and Saturday. Bishop and Obum Gwacham will compete in the high jump; James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton, Rashaad Reynolds and Parker run the 60 meters.

"We can't wait to compete," Bishop said. "All these guys are elite track guys in high school, and they miss it, too. I just love the competition of track. It's a sport where it's all on you, and I miss that competition."

History will be made by the Beavers this weekend since this will be the first time a male represents the school in track since 1988, when Karl Van Calcar won the NCAA title in the 3,000 steeplechase in Eugene.

"I'm downplaying it a bit, but it's a pretty big deal this weekend," Sullivan said. "It's has been 22 years since a guy has worn a track uniform at Oregon State. There are going to be a lot of smiles."

To put that in perspective, none of the competitors were born when the Beavers had a men's track team.

"When I heard that I didn't know it was that long," Bishop said. "It's going to be pretty good to be the first men in a long time to represent Oregon State in track."

Sullivan plans to get through this event and see how it goes before committing to more events. He may add more indoor meets in the region before spring football, which begins March 29.

When spring practice ends May 1 there will be time for two outdoor meets.

"We have 8-to-10 outstanding track guys in the football program," Sullivan said. "Some track teams can't say that. It's pretty amazing to see the talent we have on the football team. It's a credit to what (football) coach Mike Riley has done."

The football players can do this officially because they are football players just running tack, so there's no track scholarships for men to tip the Title IX balance.

During this time of year football players are just lifting weights and running with their strength and conditioning coaches. Sullivan doesn't add more workout time to their schedule.

When it's their running time for football he takes them to the side and teaches track technique, while the rest of the football players work on their conditioning with the strength coaches.

"I'm all for it if there's an opportunity and they are able to do that." Riley said. "In track and football there's good cross training. There's no problem pursing their dreams. They have to combine football prep and and what they do in track. If they have a strong desire to get done, they will. It's all time management."

As for the long-term future, the Beavers hope to expand the track program. However, they need a facility, and there has been ongoing fundraising.

Sullivan says something is imminent to trigger construction plans, but can't say when.

"There's not a lot we can move forward on the men or the women side until we get the facility built," Sullivan said. "Until we have our own facility it's impossible to do this right. Our focus the last couple years has been fundraising. We are closer to that than we have ever been."

Until then it's a few events here and there.

"A few events are good right now," Bishop said. "I think we are going to start to build something soon. It's little steps at a time before we can compete as a full team."

 

 

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