Oregon State’s track and field complex is slowly but steadily taking shape.
The wet winter and spring weather extinguished plans to have several new additions ready for this weekend’s High Performance Meet and the Pac-12 Conference multi-event championships to follow.
But the Beavers believe, with the potential of completing the facility in the next few years, that bigger meets, fans and alumni could be drawn to the on-campus Whyte Track & Field Center soon.
“There’s a ton of potential with the facility to be done, which would be great for the program, great for the university, but also be phenomenal for the community,” OSU coach Kelly Sullivan said this week. “It’s a diamond in the rough sitting out there.”
Ten years of fundraising, with moneys almost entirely provided by donors, has brought the complex to its current point. The facility opened in September 2012.
Work is underway to create what Sullivan says will be one of the top hammer facilities in the country. Also expected to be finished this summer is an area beyond the backstretch that will include a new pole vault runway and room for practices and warming up off of the oval.
A state-of-the-art HD video scoreboard will be placed outside the northeast corner of the track later this year.
The next phase of the project, for which the fundraising is underway, includes a grandstand, restrooms, paving the parking lot and creating an entry way.
Sullivan says that phase, which would complete the facility, is within reach of being done in four or five years.
“The hope and dream is the more people see it, they ask the question ‘what else do you need?’ ” Sullivan said, adding that most of the fundraising has stemmed from that type of question.
The obvious answer is seating.
The OSU High Performance Meet, which will include roughly 650 athletes, will likely draw a few thousand spectators for its two-day schedule Friday and Saturday in the Beavers’ lone home event of the season.
Entries for the primarily collegiate meet also include 2012 and 2016 Olympians.
More than 400 people have contributed to funding the facility. Sullivan credits Doug Oxsen, the OSU Foundation’s director of development for athletics, for his work on the project since its creation.
Oregon State, which fields a women’s program, was originally awarded this year’s Pac-12 championship meet but later had to decline because the facility would not be ready. Oregon will host the meet May 13-14 in Eugene.
OSU will host the conference’s multi-event championships May 6-7. Sullivan says the completion of the facility will get Oregon State in rotation to host the regular Pac-12 meet.
“We need to have something major here that brings them all back,” the coach said. “That’s how you get all your alumni and people back, is when you host a conference championships.”
The Beavers have made an assault on the school record book this spring.
A total of 40 top-10 all-time times and marks have been set. Leading that effort is junior sprinter Venessa D’Arpino.
The North Valley High alum out of Grants Pass has recovered from a serious back injury to claim the school records in the 100 (11.70 seconds), 200 (23.63) and 400 (54.14) meters.
D’Arpino broke her personal best in the 200 in four straight meets, with the final time coming last weekend in Clovis, California. In the same meet she broke the school’s 400 record that had stood for nearly 38 years.
Senior Rachel Picknell moved up to the No. 2 discus spot in school history with a toss of 164 feet, 9 inches in Clovis.
Junior McKenzie Byrd set the javelin record (150-9¼) earlier this season. Senior Helen Ann Haun has matched her school record of 12-10 originally set last season.
Junior Devin Collins is the school record-holder in the 100 hurdles (13.45) and 400 hurdles (58.64), both set last season. Her best 100 hurdles time this season (13.83) would be second on the all-time list.