CORVALLIS, Ore. – The names Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine have resonated throughout the history of collegiate track and field and have propelled the University of Oregon to among one of the most successful and recognizable of all collegiate athletic programs.
And while Bowerman and Prefontaine’s places are secure for all time, less than an hour up the road from the campus in Eugene, where the Oregon legends left an indelible mark on the sport, the Oregon State women’s track and cross-country teams are making a name for themselves.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said OSU coach Louie Quintana, who is in his fourth season leading the resurging running programs in Corvallis. “Everyone has been receptive of the things we are trying to do as we work to get better as individuals and as a team.”
Lindsay McShane and Kaylee Mitchell are leading a strong contingent of OSU standouts who are breaking records at seemingly every turn in 2021.
McShane, Mitchell and five of their OSU teammates will take things to a bigger stage when they compete at the NCAA West Regional meet May 27-29 on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
The top 48 performances this season earned berths into the regional meet and the top 12 finishers in each event will advance to the national meet June 10-12 in Eugene, Ore.
McShane is among the region’s best at the hammer throw. Her best throw this season came May 7 at the Oregon Twilight when she won the event with a heave of 64.47 meters (211-feet, six-inches). It was her eighth win in as many tries this season and gave her the OSU school record in the event. It bettered the previous school record of 63.48 meters she set earlier this season.
It will be the second regional appearance for McShane who qualified in 2019 last year’s meet was cancelled.
Grace Fetherstonhaugh will also be making her second appearance at the regional meet for the Beavers.
“(McShane) was awesome once again,” Quintana said. “She’s just having a great season.”
McShane’s teammates Sydney Guthrie-Baker (58.50 meters) and Haleigh Sudbeck (54.09 meters) placed second and third behind McShane at the Oregon Twilight meet.
McShane’s winning streak came to an end at the recent PAC 12 meet at the University of Southern California where her throw of 61.54 (201-11) gave her a fifth-place finish.
Sudbeck (53.61 meters) and Guthrie-Baker (52.57 meters) placed 10th and 12th, respectively, at the conference meet. California standout Camryn Rogers won the event with a throw of 72.22 meters (236-11). Two other OSU throwers competed in the event. Keely McLaughlin recorded a throw of 48.53 meters (159-2) to place 18th and teammate Caitlyn Marx placed 20th with a throw of 45.25 (148-5).
McShane said the uncertainty of even having a season has been a big reason for the success of her and her OSU teammates this season.
“Being able to come back and compete again has seemed to give us all a new appreciation for being able to do what we enjoy doing,” she said. “We are just having fun doing what we do best.”
McShane shatters the stereotype of what a weight thrower looks like.
Instead of a short and stocky athlete, McShane’s five-foot-seven-inch frame proves being successful at throwing the nearly nine-pound instrument involves far more than brute strength.
“It takes a blend of speed and strength,” said the OSU standout. “It’s a technical event and combines mass and acceleration.”
McShane also competed in the discus for much of her career in Corvallis and recently announced that she is giving up that event to devote her attention to the weight throw as she prepares for the regional and national meets.
She narrowly missed out on scoring points for the Beavers in the discus at the conference meet. Her throw of 48.56 meters (159-4) gave her a ninth-place finish in the event.
She also credits Quintana for much of the success she and the rest of the OSU team has enjoyed this season. “
(Quintana) really does a great job of unifying the team,” she said.
While McShane has been rewriting the OSU record book in the weight throw, Mitchell continues to shine at every turn on the oval.
The redshirt sophomore shattered the school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the conference meet in Los Angeles.
She was clocked in 9:48.30 and finished in third place.
Mitchell’s time shattered the time she set earlier this season.
“Some days you have it and others you don’t,” Mitchell said of her performance at the conference meet.
As impressive as her performance was, it also secured her a spot to compete for the Olympic Trials later this year.
“Learning to believe in myself has been hard and something I work on daily. So, when moments like this happen it is extra sweet. This shows that you can do anything you put your mind to.”
The Trials will be held June 18-27 in Eugene, Ore. Mitchell and the other steeplechase hopefuls are scheduled to compete on June 20 in the first round of the event. The final will be contested June 24.
Mitchell, along with Fetherstonhaugh, earned their spot at the West Regional in hopes of returning to their surroundings in the Pacific Northwest to compete in the NCAA national meet when it takes place in Eugene in June.
Fetherstonhaugh secured her spot in the regional meet with a fifth-place finish in the steeplechase at the conference meet. Her time of 9:54.60 is the second-fastest time in school history.
Guthrie-Baker will join McShane in the hammer throw at the regional meet. McShane is seeded 16th while Guthrie-Baker will carry a 37th seed into the meet.
Batya Beard will represent OSU in the 10K after turning in a 33:25.86 at the conference meet and placing sixth. She is the 18th seed for the regional meet.
Audrey Lookner (5,000) and Sara Sanders (javelin) will also compete in the regional meet for Oregon State. Lookner, who was clocked in 16:18.29 at the conference meet, is the 39th seed for the meet in College Station and Sanders, who has a season-best throw if 46.41 meters, is seeded 46th.
Claire Corbitt and Anneke Moersdorf competed for OSU in the heptathlon at the PAC 12 meet. Corbitt complete the grueling 10-event test with 4,976 points to place 10th, while Moersdorf’s 4,891 points gave her a 12th-place finish.
The rapid rise of the OSU track and field under Quintana’s guidance should come as little surprise since his arrival as coach in 2017 after 16 years at Arizona State. There he guided the men’s and women’s cross-country programs into one of the best in the nation during his time in the desert. He also coached the distance and middle-distance runners in track while with the Sun Devils.
The success has followed Quintana to Corvallis.
He led the OSU women to a fourth-place finish (100 points) at the recent PAC 12 cross country championship meet and the Beavers went on to place 16th (375 points) at the national championship. Both were the best finishes in program history.
Individual success obviously followed. Mitchell became the highest finisher at the national meet when she placed 20th in a time of 20:38.5. She, along with Beard, who also placed in the top 40 at the meet, gave OSU its first-ever All-Americans in cross country.
On the track, Fetherstonhaugh became just the third OSU woman to ever qualify for the national indoor meet earlier this spring. She placed 14th in the 5,000 (16:22.03) to earn second-team All-American accolades.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.