Six Beaver football players take to the track

OSU MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD doesn't appear to be coming back to Oregon State anytime soon. But six Beaver football players -- James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton, Keynan Parker, Jordan Bishop, Obum Gwacham and Rashaad Reynolds -- will be taking to the track this weekend.

For the first time in nearly 22 years, male student-athletes will compete in an intercollegiate track event representing Oregon State, SID Steve Fenk said in a release this afternoon. Six football players travel to the Husky Indoor Classic at the University of Washington this weekend in Seattle.

The entries include wide receivers Jordan Bishop and Obum Gwacham in the high jump, with James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton, Keynan Parker and Rashaad Reynolds running in the 60 meters.

"These guys like the competition, it's good training and I wholeheartedly support it," Mike Riley said. "This will not interfere in any way on how they participate in spring practice; in fact it will help them be in better shape when we start next month."

Women's track/cross country coach Kelly Sullivan has been organizing the workouts for the football student-athletes competing this weekend.

"Coach (Mike) Riley and I have discussed this possibility for a couple of years now, but it really has materialized this winter," Sullivan said. "It is amazing just how gifted these athletes are and it's going to be a special moment to see OSU men back in action representing the sport of track."

Bishop was a premier track athlete at West Salem High. He was the state's long jump champion and placed second in the high jump and 400 meters as a senior in 2008. Gwacham was among California's best in the high jump, triple jump and long jump in 2009.

Rodgers, meanwhile, was Texas' highest scoring athlete at the 2007 state meet, Wheaton was part of the Arizona state 4x100 record relay team at Chandler High School, Parker holds several Canadian records in sprints, and Reynolds was a three-sport athlete at San Fernando High in Los Angeles.

Saturday will mark the first time a male student-athlete has represented Oregon State University in a men's track event since Karl Van Calcar (steeplechase) and John Thomas (hammer) earned All-America status at the 1988 NCAA Championships. Oregon State has fielded a women's cross country and track team since 2004, after both programs were discontinued following the '88 spring season. Sullivan expects to have the same group, with possible additions, to compete in future indoor events. The football team returns to the field for spring practice on March 29.

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