Sept. 29, 2011
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Head coach Kelly Sullivan has been dreaming of hosting his own track meet since he began coaching here at Oregon State in 2004, and on Monday Sept. 26, that dream took the first steps to becoming a reality.
"It really hit me last night and this morning that all the dreams, the planning, the work, the trust, the commitment, the giving and the support of so many and the history of the two programs just came boiling over inside seeing the ground being moved with so much passion," Sullivan said.
On Monday, the first official construction began on Phase I of the new Oregon State track and field facility. After a long summer of paper work and getting permits finalized, the dream for Oregon State is one step closer.
"They say patience is a virtue, and for me patience has been more of a challenge," Sullivan said. "I just want to say congratulations to so many people who have worked so hard and especially thanks to every person who has helped donate to this historical project."
When Oregon State decided to compete in women's track and cross country after a 16-year hiatus, it turned to a coach with experience both in the Pacific Northwest and at the NCAA Division I level. Sullivan has been the head coach charged with putting Oregon State back into intercollegiate running.
Sullivan has also coached at Willamette University, Auburn and Clackamas Community College and was introduced at Oregon State on Jan. 14, 2004.
"There is no question that Oregon State University is an amazing place, a special place," Sullivan said. "It's a university where about 80 percent of my family graduated from, so when the opportunity did come to take the job here, it was home. I'm very proud of being a part of Oregon State and to be a part of something that a lot of people didn't believe could happen."
Phase I of the track and field project will include an IAAF certified Olympic-caliber polyurethane surface, nine-lane track with one meter safety zone on the outer perimeter, steeplechase on the interior apex of the turn, dual high jump aprons, dual long jump/triple jump runways with oppositional pits, dual pole vault runways with oppositional plant boxes, dual shot put throw sectors, dual discus rings, oppositional east/west javelin runways, FieldTurf synthetic turf infield, NCAA and high school track markings and Oregon State graphics.
"We need people to keep sending us energy and positive vibes as we still need to raise more funds to finish the project," Sullivan said. "This is just phase I, we still have work to do, but the dream is real. The work, progress and enthusiasm of what was seen at one time as a `pipe dream' is no longer and we know more people will wish to be involved in some way or another."
At the groundbreaking ceremony in June, there were 400-plus guests that included Oregon State track athletes of the past, present and future. NCAA Champion and Olympic gold Medalist Dick Fosbury spoke at the ceremony, along with Ed Ray, Mike Riley, Mike Goodwin and the principal donor Jim Whyte.
Some of the most important people to speak at the ceremony and the people that are most excited about the new track facility are the student-athletes that will be able to use it upon completion. The winter and spring of 2010 will go down as a time of progress for Sullivan and the Oregon State track program.
It saw Oregon State male student-athletes compete in track and field events for the first time since 1988. Under Sullivan's guidance, Oregon State football student-athlete Jordan Bishop became the first student-athlete, male or female, to earn All-American status when he finished 10th in the high jump at the NCAA Championships in June of 2010. Along with Bishop competing in the high jump for Oregon State, Kristin Oenning became the first female student-athlete to compete in a field event since the cross country and track program was reinstated.
"I really hope President Ray, Bob De Carolis and Mike Goodwin truly have a sense of accomplishment and excitement because without their support and that of the entire community of OSU, Corvallis and our incredible alumni and donors, none of this would have ever happened," Sullivan said.
Fans can follow the progress of the track rebuilding process on Oregon State's cross country and track website at http://www.runnerspace.com/GoBeavs . Fans can also follow the progree at this link http://emerick.com/OSUTrackField/index.html .
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