Oregon's Hasay Stays Under The Radar

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By Haley Hirai

Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay just likes to go under the radar. For one of the best cross country runners in the national spotlight, a routine trip to the grocery store in her small hometown of Arroyo Grande, Calif., can often lead to an hour of talking to the town's many well-wishers, who proudly follow her accomplishments in the local newspaper.

"Aren't you Jordan Hasay?" is a common question for Hasay to hear. During a recent supermarket outing with her mother, Hasay's mom gave a surprising answer to the quizzical employee.

"My mom said, 'Oh no, she gets that all the time. She just looks like her.' We fooled them," Hasay said.

Everyone in line marveled at her resemblance to the real Jordan, but the next time Hasay and her mom made a trip to the store, she couldn't get past the same employee and sheepishly let him in on the joke.

Hasay's trips to the grocery store are indicative of her love to cook anything, from her favorite chicken pesto recipe that she makes with her mom to healthy fish and pasta. At Oregon, Hasay and her teammates relish their team dinners, often frequenting an organic Mexican restaurant in downtown Eugene.

"We love to cook and eat. When we run, we just talk about what we're going to eat afterwards. That's a favorite among runners: refueling," Hasay said.

The team does everything together, from training and eating to going to a local campus ministry and youth group.

"Most of us don't have that many friends that aren't on the team. We try to. If we make friends that aren't on the team we're all bragging, 'Oh, I made a friend in my class today!'" Hasay said.

Many of her teammates even live in the same apartment complex, and Hasay enjoys knocking on her neighbors' doors across the hall and on the floor below whenever she wants to hang out.

Prior to the start of the 2010 season, the Oregon team went on a three-week training camp in Sunriver, Ore., about three hours away from the Eugene campus.

"We got to know all the new freshmen and got really excited for the season," Hasay said.

Hasay is quick to mention the tight-knit group that her team has formed. Her teammates even help her French braid her signature long blonde hair for races.

"I just kept my hair long, and then it kind of became my trademark," Hasay said. "It'd be weird cutting it."

In her younger days, Hasay didn't tie her hair into ponytails, and, according to her mom, she still has videos that show her hair just "flowing" in the wind behind her.

Hasay will always be grateful to her elementary school coach, the first to take notice of her extraordinary talent when she was beating all of the boys in races. As a fourth grader, she began racing against much larger eighth graders.

"I didn't really notice [the age difference]," she said. "I just love being out there. I didn't really think about the competition."

Racing — and beating — bigger, older competitors has become something Hasay is quite used to. She began setting age-group records when she was 12 and has gone on to win countless championships and awards, along with earning plenty of national attention. Hasay blushes at any mention of her many accomplishments.

"I just go out there and do my thing, and I keep having fun with it," she said. "I am so thankful and so blessed. A lot of people have helped me along the way that I am forever grateful for. When I get out there and run a race, I just think about giving back to everyone that's ever helped me."

There were only five girls on her cross-country team at Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, and she didn't have anyone consistently to train with. But after a successful high school career, she had plenty of options to continue her training. After considering many other Pac-10 schools, Hasay chose to attend Oregon partly because the small town atmosphere reminded her of her tight-knit community at home in Arroyo Grande.

"It was one of the best decisions of my life to come here. I love it," she said.

One of Hasay's dreams is making the 2012 Olympic Games.

"This season is definitely going to be pretty big in deciding which event I'm going to try to run. I'm still really young so it is going to be tough, but it's one of my goals," she said.

Hasay's career is built on longevity, and it will last far after her competitive running days are over. A human physiology major, she sees her schoolwork as an outlet to relax from running, and hopes to one day become a physical trainer.

"I want to stay in the world of sports," she said.

Hasay brightens up that world with every step in every race, and will definitely be recognized in supermarket checkout lines for many years to come.

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