Central Coast native Jordan Hasay advances to 5,000-meter final at U.S. Track and Field Trials

July 2, 2016 - Jordan Hasay competes in the women’s 10,000 meters at the USA Track & Field Olympic Trials at Haward Field in Eugene, Oregon on July 2.
July 2, 2016 - Jordan Hasay competes in the women’s 10,000 meters at the USA Track & Field Olympic Trials at Haward Field in Eugene, Oregon on July 2. Associated Press

Jordan Hasay has been in the national running spotlight for the better part of a decade.

From a record-setting high school career at Mission Prep, to her highly decorated collegiate campaign at the University of Oregon, Hasay has experienced her fair share of high points and the occasional setback along the way.

Both seem to be in play this week at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, where Hasay is competing against the top distance runners in the country for a handful of spots on Team USA at the upcoming Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Last Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, Hasay finished ninth in the 10,000-meter final, crossing the finish line in 32 minutes, 43.43 seconds. The Arroyo Grande native, who competes for Nike Oregon Project, was more than a minute behind individual champion Molly Huddle.

She returned to the track four days later for the 5,000 preliminaries, knowing Thursday’s race could be the final chance to make her first U.S. Olympic team.

Hasay, 24, secured a spot in Sunday’s final with a time of 15:34.50.

“I think my confidence is a bit shaken after the 10K,” Hasay told reporters after the race. “I know people don’t expect me to make the team, but I was devastated. I knew it was my best shot. But I’m really thankful for the opportunity to come back in the 5K and just have some fun out there.”

The top six runners from each preliminary heat and the next four fastest times earned spots in the final, which is scheduled to be held at 4:28 p.m. Sunday. Hasay did not finish in the top six of her heat, but she ran the ninth-fastest time overall to keep her Olympic aspirations alive.

Huddle, Katie Mackey and Shelby Houlihan each ran under 15:27 in the prelims, meaning Hasay would likely need to deliver a personal-best performance in the final to earn a spot on Team USA.

“I let myself be upset and then tried to save it for that moment when it got really hard,” Hasay said. “It’s draining on any athlete, I think. It’s hard to sleep, you’re just always thinking about it. I’m thankful I’m very fit and I recovered well.”

Hasay will certainly have the home crowd behind her when she approaches the starting line Sunday afternoon. Hayward Field was the place Hasay developed into the most decorated runner in Oregon history.

She was a two-time national champion, three-time Pac-12 Athlete of the Year and garnered 18 All-American honors in a Ducks uniform.

Those on the Central Coast who have followed Hasay’s career since its early stages likely aren’t surprised to see her making a run at an Olympic berth.

Perhaps no moment in Hasay’s career stands out more than the 2008 Trials when she set the national high school record in the 1,500 and earned an unexpected spot in the finals.

Even six years later, Hasay still leans on those experiences.

“The crowd was great and the last lap,” Hasay said, “I just pretended like I was 16 and I was sneaking that last spot into the final.”