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Olympic Trials Don't Always Bring the Thrill of Victory
By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Statesman Journal
June 29, 2012

Jordan Hasay - Hayward Field, University of Oregon
Eugene, OR - Four years ago, Jordan Hasay was a high school junior from Arroyo Grande, California, competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.

A wisp of a girl with a long, blonde ponytail, Hasay quickly captured the Hayward crowd, and they were vocal in their support of the 16-year-old, even imploring her with a chant of "come to Oregon."

At the 2008 Trials, Hasay not only made the finals of the 1500 meters, but also set an American junior record in the event. She posed by the clock with her record time before dozens of photographers, and was clearly one of the darlings of the Trials.

Four years later, Hasay is now a junior at the University of Oregon, and is just as beloved as ever by Eugene and UO fans. She has had a stellar career as a Duck, winning Pac-12 championships and helping her team win three indoor national championships, among other accomplishments.

Hasay came to the Olympic Trials this year knowing that a berth on the Olympic team was probably beyond her grasp. Though her college season was carefully orchestrated so as not to leave her exhausted at the end of the season, Hasay still had a full indoor season and seven or eight hard races outdoors.

Still, she was hoping for a good showing in the Trials, especially here in Eugene before her fans. She looked good in the first round on Thursday evening.

Her 1500 meter semifinal race started out promisingly on Friday afternoon. Hasay stayed near the front of the back and seemed to be in position to make a move whenever it might be needed. But, when the racing began on the last lap, Hasay couldn't respond. Fifth with 300 meters to go, she dropped six places in half a lap, and ended up in 11th place in a so-so time of 4:15.52.

Hasay's time of 66.5 seconds over the last 400 meters was telling. Shannon Rowbury, who won the heat, ran 61.09 over the last lap.

Hasay said she felt "embarrassed" at not having a better race and result for her home fans.

"I just didn't have it today," Hasay said. "It was going to be a really hard task to make the final. These are all great women. I thought I would be a lot closer than that but I just didn't feel good on that last lap."

The 20-year-old Hasay is a positive person and chose to focus on the future. She acknowledged that she is more suited to running longer distances and will definitely focus on running the 5000 meters next year.

"This is probably my last year of running the 1500. We wanted to move up to the 5000 this year . . . that's where my heart was all year. It was really hard watching the (5000) race last night. It'll come. Once I move up, it's going to be real good."

Julia Lucas
While Hasay was able to see a hopeful future despite this disappointment, Julia Lucas, an OTC Elite runner, voiced her painful emotions after the 5000 final on Friday night and, at that point, couldn't even bear to think ahead.

Lucas, who came into the race as one of the favorites after a break-through season to this point, took control of the race with three laps to go. She built her lead to 15 meters with just 600 meters left in the race, but then started to fade a bit. Julie Culley and Molly Huddle, her closest pursuers, caught Lucas half-way through the final lap, leaving Lucas in third place.

Clearly exhausted, Lucas continued to hang on gamely. With 100 meters to go, it looked like her lead over Kim Conley, who was in fourth, was safe. But halfway down the final stretch, Lucas started to tie up badly and, behind her, Conley was in full sprint.

Conley pulled even right at the finish line, edging Lucas by .04 seconds. The Olympic team berth that appeared to be a lock for Lucas was gone, just like that. An exuberant Conley celebrated as the race results appeared on the screen, while a dazed Lucas slumped in despair.

Lucas, who is married to former Klamath Falls High School star Ian Dobson, blamed herself for what she saw as a big strategic mistake.

"Because there were so many girls right there, I thought that a long extended push would be the way to go," Lucas said. "When it came down to the last 100 meters I just didn't have it. I gave that race away.

"In an Olympic year the standard for success is making the Olympic team and I didn't. I screwed that up and lost an Olympic race. That means my season is pretty much a failure."

It was clear that the bitter taste of the race finish will stay with Lucas for quite awhile. After years of dealing with injuries, this was her year, her "gift," as she put it. Healthy, running 100 miles a week in training, with a "great coach," the opportunity was there for her.

And then it was gone. In .04 seconds.

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