EUGENE, Ore. — With her signature blond ponytail braided and swaying with every stride, Jordan Hasay gave the Hayward Field crowd one last moment to remember.
All that was missing was a victory lap.
The Oregon senior finished third in the women’s 5,000 meters Friday night at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, wrapping up a decorated amateur career that began at Mission Prep.
It was almost a perfect ending, as Hasay led going into the final lap before getting passed by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino with 300 meters to go and then Iowa State’s Betsy Saina near the finish line.
D’Agostino finished in 15 minutes, 43.68 seconds. Saina, who won the NCAA 10,000 title Wednesday, came in at 15:50.26, and Hasay was at 15:50.78.
“Today I was trying to believe in storybook endings,” Hasay said. “But that’s life. You can script it all you want, but it doesn’t always work out the way you’d like it to. … I’ll race at Hayward again. Just not in this uniform.”
Hasay made her Hayward Field debut during the 2008 Olympic Trials when she brought the house down with a national high school girls record-setting time of 4:14.50 in the 1,500 during a semifinal heat.
It was just the first of many standing ovations during her career for Hasay, who leaves Oregon as a 15-time all-American, a two-time NCAA individual champion, school record-holder in the 10K (32:06.64) and indoor 3,000 (9:03.95), and all-around fan favorite.
“This past meet has been one of the best meets of my life just thinking about all the different memories I have as a Duck,” Hasay said.
“You know, no matter what, these last four years have been an experience like no other. It’s sad that it’s the end, but it’s also a lot of great memories.”
Fans in Hayward Field’s east grandstand gave Hasay a standing ovation Friday when she was escorted to the starting line for pre-race warmups, and another, much longer ovation when the race was over.
“I just feel so blessed to have this community around me,” Hasay said. “I was just enjoying the moment.”
Hasay appeared to be in perfect position for her storybook ending when she moved past D’Agostino with 500 meters to go, bringing the crowd to its feet.
“When we got to 800 to go I was just really excited, and I was feeling really good,” Hasay said. “I was planning between 400 and 600 to make a move. My theme going in was, ‘You’ll always have another gear’ and I trusted that the crowd was going to give me another gear. In this case, I guess the extra gear was helping me hold it together.”
That’s because D’Agostino was simply setting herself up for a big kick that came with 300 left — near the same spot where Hasay’s parents were sitting — and when she went, she went, blowing past Hasay to win uncontested.
“When she went by me, well she’s just a really good athlete,” laughed Hasay, who then appeared to run out of steam down the homestretch allowing Saina to catch her.
“Kind off bittersweet, obviously,” Hasay said. “I would’ve liked to end on a win. But this is just the beginning for me in terms of my running career.”