EUGENE, Ore. — Jordan Hasay is getting a makeover and it has nothing to do with her trademark down-to-there blond hair.
As her career with the Oregon Ducks comes to a close, Hasay is transitioning from the 1,500 meters to the 10,000 meters — with an eye toward the 2016 Olympics.
“Ultimately, endurance is my real strength,” she said. “A lot of people will say you don’t want to move up too early. But I think it’s all about experience. The rationale was to move up to the 10K this year and get experience, and hopefully by 2016 it will be my event.”
In just two races, she’s seen success at the longer distance.
At the recent Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford, Hasay broke both the Pac-12 and Oregon records by running the 10K in 32 minutes, 6.64 seconds. It is the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history.
The former Mission Prep star ran her first competitive 10K in late March at the Stanford Invitational, finishing with 32:46.68. The only two runners who were faster were Olympians Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher.
The most decorated track and field athlete ever at Oregon, the 17-time All-American has run mostly at the 1,500 and 3,000-meter distances. She has won national championships in the indoor 3,000 meters and the mile. An outdoor title has to this point eluded her.
“Ultimately, I would love to be competitive on the world level at the 1,500, but I just don’t see that happening in the long run,” she said.
Hasay’s switch could be looked at as a wise one this far out in front of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. If her attempt to focus on the 10K for some reason doesn’t pan out, the training experience could help with the shorter distances.
“I’m not totally putting all of that away. Obviously, I want to continue to work on my speed in order to be better. But I really love the 10K and I love training for it, and I think it’s only going to help me get better at the 5K,” she said. “The thinking behind it was that last year I tried to train for the 1,500 and the 5K, and that’s a really difficult thing to do.”
Hasay will run the 1,500 and the 5K this weekend at the at the Pac-12 track and field championships in Los Angeles, saving her legs for the NCAA championships, which Oregon will host in June.
Hasay was one of the nation’s top prep runners, grabbing attention with both her speed and her unbelievably long hair, which earned her the nickname “Little Pony” for the style she wore on the track.
She grabbed national attention as a 16-year-old at the 2008 Olympic trials in Eugene when she set an American high school record in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:14.50. Track and Field News named her the Girls High School Athlete of the Year.
Since she has arrived in Eugene, Hasay has been a key contributor to the rise of the women’s team at Oregon.
The Ducks were once defined by Bill Bowerman’s “Men of Oregon” and Steve Prefontaine. In more recent years, Olympians Ashton Eaton and Galen Rupp have brought the spotlight to Eugene.
But the women’s program has won four straight national indoor titles. This season the team also won the NCAA cross country championship for the first time since 1987. So now the Ducks are gunning to sweep the national team titles at the NCAA outdoor championships in June, something that’s never been done before.
There’s a sign on the bulletin board in the women’s locker room reading: “Triple Crown. Every practice counts.”
“She’s been huge. Jordan was one of the pieces of that success. When you look at her class, you’ve got Rebecca Friday and Ann Kesselring and all those girls who have been rock solid as part of the senior class that came in with Jordan,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “We’ve definitely been blessed to have her. She’s been a big part of what we’ve done over the last four years. We’ll definitely hate to see her go.”
Oregon’s women have not won a national outdoor championship since 1985.
In addition to her two career individual NCAA titles, Hasay has won four Pac-12 titles — in cross country, the 5,000 and twice in the 1,500 — but she said it has never been about accolades.
“It’s all about the journey and just about being surrounded by a great group of people to train with, and being a part of this community. Really, they embraced me when I was 16 at the Olympic trials and all the way through my years here. It’s kind of a cool storybook thing.”
Oh, and as for her hair, Hasay isn’t changing a thing.
“A teammate actually says she’s come up with a list of compelling reasons to cut my hair before I turn pro, which I haven’t yet seen,” Hasay said. “I used to be like, it’s no big deal, it just happens to be my hair. But now it’s like when people tell me to cut it, I won’t. It’s very much my trademark. It’s like a lucky thing.”