Having spent nearly a decade as one of the best runners for her age in the country, Jordan Hasay already has a shelf life longer than most canned goods, let alone elite athletes.
Still, when she woke up back home on the Central Coast this past weekend, she couldn’t help but feel back at the beginning.
The former record-setting high school phenom is only 22, and after rewriting her personal record book in her first season as a pro this past year — including back-to-back second-place finishes in the U.S. Track and Field Championships — Hasay still looks to have quite a career ahead of her.
“It’s really fun, and it’s the best job in the world,” said Hasay, who was one second from winning the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento last week before a quick visit home.
“At the end of the day, it’s just running. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, and that’s what’s cool about it. Since I’ve been able to continue for a long time, I feel fortunate because a lot of girls I raced against in high school were not able to get to this level because of injuries and other stuff. I feel really blessed to be able to get to continue to do this and at such a high level.”
The Arroyo Grande product was a three-time first-team Academic All-American at Oregon, where she graduated with a business degree in 2013. Before that, she was a valedictorian at Mission Prep. Although running has been a big part of her life, Hasay was just as good a student. Now, she can put all of her focus on training and competing, and it’s already led to improvement. Including the indoor season, Hasay has set 15 personal records in the past year alone.
Shortly after finishing up at Oregon last year, Hasay competed for Team USA in the World Championships. She went into this year’s U.S. Championships as the second-ranked American woman in the 10,000 behind U.S. record holder Shalane Flanagan.
Flanagan surprisingly pulled out of the 10,000 late last week, opening the door for Hasay to take the title. In the end, Hasay was edged by UC Davis graduate Kim Conley, who won the race in 32 minutes, 2.07 seconds. Hasay was right behind at 32:03.28.
Hasay was disappointed not to win but still looks at the race as the brightest highlight to an encouraging first year on the the pro circuit.
The IAAF World Championships are only held in odd-numbered years, but Hasay still has a few more meets ahead of her. As part of the prestigious international Diamond League series, Hasay will run the 1,500 in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 5,000 in Monaco later this month. She’ll wrap up the year with late-summer races in Birmingham, England, and Brussels, Belgium.
Out of college, Hasay signed with Nike and joined with the Nike Oregon Project, a premier club for elite distance runners that trains at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The improvement she’s shown thus far under acclaimed coach Alberto Salazar appears to be an indicator of future success.
Her goal for now is to keep inching up toward the front of her races — with an eye toward making the U.S. Olympic team in 2016.
Even that, she believes, would only be another beginning.
“I used to get very upset when I didn’t win races,” Hasay said. “I’m hopefully working my way up to be at that level, but we’re really looking long term, and my coach is really good at planning out and thinking five, six years down the road.
“I cant complain. We’re still kind of waiting for that big breakthrough race. It’s been kind of little steps, but it’s definitely there.”