The University of Oregon business professor was surprised to see his former human physiology major stride into her new favorite course and plop into her customary front-row seat.
True, the professor did give daily quizzes that were a pain to have to make up, but this was race day — the NCAA Regionals — and all eyes in Track Town USA were waiting to see how this sophomore would compare to a speeding locomotive.
Only, with a few hours still left to make it to the phone booth, she wasn’t Jordan Hasay the track superhero. She was mild-mannered Jordan Hasay, the friendly neighborhood business major.
And her alter ego in the classroom is just as important to her as her identity on the track.
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“Anything that I do, I was always taught to do your best at it,” said Hasay, a former Mission Prep track star and valedictorian. “I try to do my best at running, and I try to do my best in academics, and I think they help balance each other. I don’t think I would be as successful at running if I didn’t try to focus on academics as well and try to keep that balance.”
Despite a disappointing performance in the NCAA championships, Hasay is coming off a highly successful collegiate season, one where she won some national championships on the track and was awarded some lofty academic awards as well.
After spending most of her summer recovering from a taxing running season while training from her parents’ home in Arroyo Grande, the 19-year-old took time with The Tribune last week and reflected on the trajectory of her life.
Hasay’s attempt to pull off a historic double at the NCAA Championships in June — no one had ever won the women’s 1,500 meters and the 5K in the same national championship meet — ended well short of her goals.
Considered a favorite in both races, Hasay finished fourth in the 5K final and faded to eighth in the 1,500 as she watched rival Sheila Reid of Villanova pull off the grueling double victory instead.
But that only removed some of the shine from a breakout year for Hasay.
After an essentially winless freshman season, the highly decorated former prep star and age-group national record-holder was proud to finish third in the NCAA Cross Country Championships as a sophomore.
She failed to finish first in only one other cross country meet, one where she lost a shoe on the course.
Hasay won NCAA Championships in the mile and 3K races during the indoor season, helping the Ducks to the team title as well.
With the postseason came the academic honors.
The College Sports Information Directors of America selected Hasay as the national Academic All-American of the Year for women’s cross country and track and field after she finished the semester with a 3.96 grade-point average, one A-minus being the only smudge on her record.
The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association followed suit last week, naming Hasay the Scholar Athlete of the Year for women’s indoor track.
Hasay entered college with the intention of going to medical school and becoming a doctor.
After serving internships in sports medicine and physical therapy, she said she was inspired to change her major to business, one that would allow her to go into either field without having to stress too much about medical school while also eyeing a running future.
Sooner than it will have seemed, Hasay the student and Hasay the athlete will have to merge into Hasay the pro.
“It feels like just yesterday I was running in the ’08 Olympic Trials, and I’m already two years done with college,” Hasay said. “Two more to go, and it’s done. It’s just crazy how quickly it’s gone by.”
Hasay ran to a surprising 10th in the 1,500 at the 2008 Trials — a race she was one qualifying spot away from being left out of — breaking the national high school record along the way with a time of 4 minutes, 14.40 seconds.
It was a performance that put her on track to shoot for the 2012 Games in London next summer, and she’s going to put whatever she has into making the Olympics if she can.
The first priority is making the automatic qualifying standard in either the 1,500, the 5K or both.
The A standard for the 1,500 is 4:05, which is more than five seconds faster than her personal best set last season. In the 5K, the automatic mark is 15:14, which is nearly 231⁄2 seconds faster than her previous best effort.
If the sense is that Hasay can be a contender at the Trials after the upcoming cross country season, she said coaches may have her redshirt the indoor or outdoor track season or both to help her peak later in the summer.
Redshirting would also help Hasay avoid any conflicts between classes and races, but that never seemed to be a problem anyway.
“If it was the Olympic Trials, I don’t think I would have gone to class,” Hasay said, before hesitating slightly. “Well I don’t know. Maybe.”