Sharing the same flight to Indianapolis with world-class sprinter Tyson Gay, Teresa Hasay was going to ask for his signature before her daughter stopped her.
Mission Prep sophomore Jordan Hasay is used to being on that side of the looking glass.
“My mom wanted to get his autograph, but I wouldn’t let her,” said Hasay, in Indianapolis to compete in the junior portion of the USA Track and Field Championships. “I didn’t want to bother him. I know how it feels.”
Since bursting onto the scene with national record-breaking performances in middle school, Hasay is routinely swarmed by hordes of autograph seekers at big track meets. But not this time.
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As much as a distance runner who stands 5 feet and some change with bright blonde hair trailing down near to her legs can, Hasay is blending into the crowd in this one.
Gay will continue his assault on Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin’s 100-meter world record of 9.77 seconds, a mark he beat by .01 on June 2 with an illegal assisting wind. And Gay’s only one headliner.
The spotlight will truly be on the 30 Olympic medalists, 30 world champions and 13 American record-holders vying for spots on the Team USA roster in an event scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 and NBC over the weekend.
Competing against high school seniors and college freshmen in the 19-and-under junior women’s 1,500-meter race, which is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. at the Indiana University Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium on the campus of IUPUI, Hasay is traveling in relative obscurity. And that’s fine with her.
“It’s kind of less pressure because I’m not really expected to win,” Hasay said. “I’d just like to do well and have a good experience.”
The main competition in the 1,500 will be Seattle Pacific University’s Jessica Pixler, Baylor’s Nichole Jones and New Jersey high school senior Danielle Tauro—all of whom have qualifying times around 4 minutes, 20 seconds. It should be a tough test for Hasay, who rarely runs the distance and specializes in races twice as long. But she’ll cherish the competition. To her, an event like this is equivalent to an Advanced Placement test in the classroom.
“It’s really important for me because once I start to hopefully run internationally there will always be packs,” said Hasay, who will compete in the 3,000 for Team USA in the World Youth Championships in the Czech Republic in mid-July. “And once I get to college, it will always be really competitive. I need to experience that more, so I’m not totally in shock when that happens.”
Hasay, who won the 3,000 at nationals last year, will be chasing a time, however. She’s hoping to beat 4:19.5 — the qualifying mark for next year’s Olympic Trials.
She hasn’t run a 1,500 this year, but local spectators saw her set a sophomore national record in the 1,600 at the Elks San Luis Obispo County Meet at Cuesta College in March with a time of 4:39.13.
Conventional track wisdom says top runners can subtract between 18 and 20 seconds to account for the 100 meters of difference between the two races, Hasay said.
In that case, her best 1,500 time would be around the 4:20 mark as well, with the Olympic Trials qualifying time theoretically within reach.
“I’ll be pushing the pace because I want to run fast,” Hasay said. “And there’s a lot better girls out there that have better kicks than me. So why not? I just want to get that time. Might as well.”