A delayed start to his inaugural season hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of new Oregon State cross-country coach Louis Quintana.
The Beavers' season opener was delayed after the extensive wildfires in the Northwest forced the cancellation of the Sept. 4 Oregon Preview meet.
“In a way, it was nice to get that extra week of work in,” Quintana said Wednesday. “But the team is ready to go, they’re eager, they’re excited. We’ve had four weeks together and they just want to see where they are at.”
The Beavers begin the Quintana coaching era at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. The 6,000-meter race is hosted by the University of Washington.
“It will be a good measuring stick,” Quintana said. “It was smoky here obviously, but we were able to get work in, sometimes early in the morning.”
A Villanova graduate from Arroyo Grande, California, Quintana succeeds Kelly Sullivan, now the head cross-country/track coach at Seattle University. Quintana coached at Arizona State the previous 16 seasons and was the head men's and women’s cross-country coach since 2004.
Twelve of his teams advanced to the NCAA Championships, with three taking second at the Pac-12 championships. He also coached two individual champions.
“I always loved Corvallis and saw it as a haven for running,” Quintana said in explaining why he left a successful program at ASU for one that hasn’t qualified for the NCAA championships since being revived in 2004 after a lengthy hiatus.
“I thought given the opportunity, should one open up, that this would be a great place to build. Kelly did a ton of work to get it where it is now, and his legacy at Oregon State will be how successful we will be over the next 10-15 years.
“It’s a Pac-12 school, and there is nowhere to go but up. We’re excited about getting better.”
Senior Kristiane Width leads a veteran nucleus that features eight women with Pac-12 championships/NCAA regional experience.
“It’s a great returning core,” Quintana said. “The (runners) returning from what was a top-10 team at the Pac-12 Conference meet is something to build on.”
Width finished in OSU’s top three in every meet last season and placed 41st at the Pac-12's before missing the regional with an injury.
“It has been exciting,” Width said of the coaching transition. “Sometimes change is good.”
Juniors Juliana Mount and Nicole Goecke, and sophomores Lexi Reed and Sara Christianson also ran at Pac-12s and regionals. Senior Kala Kopecek (101st) and junior Sam McKinnon (96th) ran at Pac-12s.
Mount was either second or third on the team at each event she entered and took 40th at Pac-12s and 56th at regionals. Reed (61st, 106th) and Christianson (71st, 118th) also doubled. Christianson will redshirt this fall.
Senior Holly Cavalluzzo returns after redshirting in 2016. She was OSU’s top runner in 2014 and 2015 and placed in OSU’s top five in every race she entered from 2013-15.
“Holly was injured last year, so having her back is almost like adding a new recruit. She’s healthy and doing well,” Quintana said.
Junior Gwyneth McMorris and sophomores Emily Bacon and Kaely Gordon also raced with the varsity several times in 2016. Mikayla Sodersten and Brooke Chuhlantseff redshirted as a true freshman.
Newcomers include sophomore Greta Van Calcar, an NAIA all-American transfer from South Carolina Art & Design-Atlanta; Wisconsin graduate transfer Colette Richter; senior Alba Villaronga; and freshmen Batya Beard (Portland), Rebecca Ledsham (Kenmore, Washington), and Audrey Lookner (Louisville, Colorado).
“Colette was part of two NCAA cross-country teams at Wisconsin, so she’s a great addition,” Quintana said. “Greta is another great addition. We have women who have come in, shown great promise, great fitness.
“Rebecca and Audrey will suit up on Saturday. We are already committed to racing them this fall. They have shown great ability in practice, so I feel confident they are in position to help us.”
Bacon, McMorris, McKinnon, Cavalluzzo, Ledsham, Goecke, Gordon, Kopecek, Lookner, Richter, Mount and Reed will compete on Saturday. Val Calcar will debut at the Sept. 29 Dellinger Invitational.
The abridged regular season also includes the Sept. 29 Dellinger Invitational at Springfield, hosted by Oregon, and the Oct. 14 Bronco Invitational at Sunnyvale, California, hosted by Santa Clara.
The Pac-12 Championships are Oct. 27 at Springfield, again hosted by Oregon. Washington hosts the NCAA West Regional, set for Nov. 10 in Seattle.
“We are in a heavy training cycle, and we will continue to build from this point until mid-October,” Quintana said. “We are minimizing our travel to maximize our training time together.
“We’re very fortunate the conference meet is in Eugene and the regional meet is in Seattle. Everything is geared toward racing well at conference and regionals.”