Oregon State coaches express excitement toward return of winter season

For the first time since 2020, Fans will be allowed inside Gil Coliseum

Georgina Paez, Sports Contributor

Last year, there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not the Oregon State winter sports would even be able to practice or compete.

Despite this, both women’s and men’s basketball, gymnastics and wrestling still remained optimistic, and when the teams were cleared to compete, they didn’t let that opportunity go to waste, with men’s basketball advancing to the Elite 8, and wrestling crowning two individual PAC-12 champions.

Luckily, times have gotten progressively better and Oregon State winter sports are once again ready to face their opponents, having their schedules set and the approval to allow fans back into the stands.

Nate Engel, the Assistant Head Coach for the Oregon State Wrestling Team, said that having a guaranteed season and being able to compete in some of the biggest collegiate wrestling tournaments is something that he is very grateful for.

“I think it’s a blessing to say that we are having a season. Coach [Chris] Pendleton always talks about being grateful and that is one thing we are for sure; very grateful that we have a great administration and coaches to move this program forward,” said Engel when asked about the start of this upcoming season.

This season brings more of the normal drama that would be found throughout a collegiate season, with touch matches scheduled against other top collegiate teams in the PAC-12.

Following the feeling of gratefulness for this season, comes the feeling of excitement. And Engel was very confident that after this season, everyone would know the names of the 2021-22 wrestling team.

“My experience with the team we have this year is that we are going to turn some heads, and it’s only year 2 with this staff and team. I think from top to bottom you will see how much our team has improved,” Engel shared while considering the talent the roster has.

With the stage set and team ready, it will be an exciting season to watch the wrestling team make their mark, following a year with so much uncertainty.

Along with the adversity the wrestling team faced last year, the same struggles were present for the Women’s Gymnastics Team.

Tanya Chaplin, Head Coach for the Women’s Gymnastics Team, is also incredibly grateful for this upcoming season and is most looking forward to having Beaver Nation’s support back in person.

“Being able to train all together for this allotted time period makes a big difference,” said Chaplin about the opportunity to have her team back together. “It was a challenge to not know until a week before if there was going to be a season. Now, having a schedule in place is a huge accomplishment… It will be great to have fans back in instead of two-dimensional pictures of people in the stands.”

Along with the return of two super seniors, Colette Yamaoka and Kaitlin Yanish, Chaplin has a new face coming in.

Jade Carey, a 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist for Gymnastics joining the Beavers’ this season, Chaplin had nothing but good things to say about the oldest freshman on the team.

“She’s amazing. She’s a team player, she’s incredibly talented, works so hard, gets so excited about the college season, and that’s what’s amazing too, you know? Just came off of a gold medal, but to see someone who has that passion for the college season is just incredible too.”

Carey, following a trip to Tokyo, comes into Oregon State as a bonafide leader. The experiences that she was able to pick up during the Olympics will be a factor towards her ability to contribute to the team and become a part of the family.

Outside of Carey, seventeen Oregon State gymnasts were named as Scholastic All-America Award Winners by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association, the WCGA announced earlier this August.

The Oregon State honorees included seniors Lacy Dagen, Savannah Force, Lexi Gonzales, Lena Greene and Collette Yamaoka; juniors Madi Dagen, Aleza McClung and Kristina Peterson; sophomores Kayla Bird, Jenna Domingo and Jane Poniewaz; and freshmen Sydney Gonzales, Kaitlyn Hoiland, Grace Johnson, Julia Melchert, Anna Yeates and Ariana Young.

Because of the time spent with each other, Chaplin recognizes she becomes a role model for those she coaches and doesn’t waste an opportunity to shed light on what she thinks is important for her athletes to remember during college.

Chaplin began to explain, “One thing is to cherish and embrace every moment they have doing whatever they do in whatever they love. It’s really about helping them try to stay in the moment and to look at the bigger picture but to look at what they are doing right now and celebrate the moments that they have every day.”

The advice and support from Engel and Chaplin helps their teams feel more prepared for their upcoming seasons and helps them feel comfortable within the program.

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