After a sterling, mega-honored high school career, Jordan Hasay adjusted quite well to college distance running last year. And now she's a full-blown collegiate force. Two weekends ago the 19-year-old Oregon soph won her first Pac-10 individual title of any kind. Next up is the West Regional, this weekend in Springfield, Oregon.
Hasay stayed with the Pac-10 leaders until about a half-mile remained in the rain-soaked 6K race, then moved away to claim the individual victory in 19:44.95, although Stanford won a tight-tight team battle that featured only 6 points separating the first four teams, Hasay's Ducks tieing for 3rd.
"I'm just really glad I could bring home the win for our team," she says. "I wish we could have won the team title, because that's what cross country is all about. But it definitely was an exciting day for me individually."
Of making the adjustment from a high-level prep career to college running, she says, "I think the biggest thing was just the whole different level of competition. I was used to having meets every week where I knew I was going to win. But in college, it's like every meet is a national championship. All the girls are top level now.
"Last year was a good season, but I think coach [Vin] Lananna was being real cautious on purpose. But we did push the limits a little, mainly in track, to see what we could do."
Highly competitive by nature, Hasay agrees it was a bit easier to adjust last year since she understood what Lananna's strategy was. She says, "Being a top runner for a long time, I felt like in high school, I heard things like, 'Don't run too fast too early' or 'I don't know if you'll be able to make it.'
"So it was good last year not to win everything. That could have brought on a lot of pressure this season. It wasn't like I fell back last year. I still was considered a contender in all the meets I ran. I just didn't win everything I was in. So that still gives me things to shoot for and that's exciting. It keeps me motivated."
Her prep coach, Armando Siqueiros, took a similar measured approach with Hasay toward goal-setting. "That did help prepare me some for college," she affirms. "I've been blessed to have coaches who really know what they are doing and they have brought me along slowly. Mando had realistic expectations for me and I know coach Lananna does and that's why I came to Oregon. At the same time, we try to move forward but with caution.
"So I'm excited for this season and especially for track. And of course, there are two more races yet to go in cross country."
Hasay points out that she has worked this harrier season on her finishing speed and general running form. "Improving both of those will prepare me better for track season," she says. "And my mileage right now has been high for me, in the 70s per week. I've been feeling better that ever."
As well, Hasay has worked with UO assistant Jenni Ashcroft on her running form: "She has been really helpful with form drills for me and working on my sprint mechanics. I'm excited that things will click indoors."
While she didn't become just another athlete in Oregon's high-powered program, Hasay says it gives her a boost to have top-level teammates like Alex Kosinski, Zoe Buckman and Anne Kesselring: "It definitely helps everyone. It's helpful to have someone up front to gauge off when I'm racing. And I like to think it's a help to them too. When other runners see that Alex is up there, they realize than they can be, too."
Hasay admits she enjoys the leadership role she has earned, even in just her second college season. "I look forward to that," she says, "but we also all work together. It all meshes together for us. In cross country, every runner counts. It isn't just Alex or me. People may look first at who is up front, but it's really about our pack and not just us."
And unlike high school when all eyes zeroed in on her, Hasay now has her teammates sharing the load. "That's what I like about Oregon," she says. "Having [800 star] Andrew Wheating, [decathlete] Ashton Eaton and all the other great athletes on the team definitely is very motivating for me. I'm just trying to be up there with them."
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At the ’09 NCAA Cross Country as a frosh, Hasay
placed 18th. "Last year was a good season, but
I think coach Lananna was being real cautious
on purpose. But we did push the limits a little,
mainly in track, to see what we could do.