FAIRVIEW, Ore. – Oregon State freshman Holly Cavalluzzo had a sterling debut in her first collegiate race, finishing third and pacing a quartet of Beavers in the top 10, as OSU’s cross country squad posted a strong start to its 2013 season at the Portland State Viking Invitational at Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Ore. on Friday evening.
Cavalluzzo, one of two OSU first-year competitors from New York along with Kristiane Width, finished the 4,700m course (2.92 miles) in 16:17.52. Sandra Martinez (16:43.58), Kira Kelly (16:44.96) and Width (16:48.78) finished eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, while Taylor Nowlin rounded out Oregon State’s top five with a 12th-place finish in 16:51.46.
Out of the four NCAA Division I schools to race on Friday evening (Oregon, Portland, Portland State), Oregon State had all five of its top runners finish before any others.
Cavalluzzo found herself nestled in an early gap amongst packs of Oregon runners before heeding instructions from head coach Kelly Sullivan about a mile in and moving up to place herself in the lead group. At the urging of assistant coach Laura Harmon, she took the lead for a bit, before eventually securing her third-place finish.
“Holly was pretty amazing and definitely put it all on the line,” Harmon said of the Oregon State freshman. “It was her first race in college so she ran fairly reserved for the first part and then just went with them [the lead group]. I told her she was fearless. It was pretty impressive. Even for the girls in the race, but especially for a lot of the girls who were not running, but who were watching, I think it opened their eyes to what we can do, where we’re at and what they’re capable of.”
Following Cavalluzzo, Martinez and Kelly ran with each other for much of the race and were followed closely by their teammates in Width and Nowlin, who also stuck together throughout the course.
The smaller course, which was about three quarters of a mile shorter than a normal cross country layout, didn’t space out competitors as might usually be expected. Even for Oregon State there was not a huge gap between its first and fifth finishers.
The Beavers defeated Portland and Portland State in dual scoring, but lost to Oregon. OSU scorers crossed the finish line in third, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th, while UO’s counterparts did so in first, second, fourth, fifth and 13th.
“I think today definitely met, if not exceeded our expectations of the group,” Harmon added. “You throw a few more of the young women who weren’t out there racing today into the mix and it’s pretty exciting to think about the possibility of what we can do this season. It could be a breakout season for us.”
Oregon State is back in action next Saturday, when it travels to Seattle, Wash. for the Sundodger Invitational. Following that race, the Beavers will enjoy a respite until the NCAA Inter-Regional Jamboree in Sacramento, Calif. and the Willamette Invitational in Salem, Ore. the weekend of Oct. 4 and 5.