Hasay rides late surge to second Foot Locker title
When a precocious freshman by the name of Jordan Hasay announced her arrival on
the prep running scene some four years ago by winning the Foot Locker CC
Championships you just had a sense that you were witnessing the beginning of
Indeed that was the case.
Putting a stamp on a high school cross career that needed no further validation, Hasay (MileSplit photo by Margot Kelly) finished what she started, winning her bookend championship, the bi-product of a jaw-dropping late charge.
With less than 300 meters to go, Hasay galloped past early race leader Allie McLaughlin, then caught and passed defending champion Ashley Brasovan to win in 17:22.
One week after becoming the first four-time regional champion in Foot Locker history, Hasay became the fourth repeat girls champion and first since Erin Sullivan won her second consecutive title in 1998. Melody Fairchild also won in consecutive years. Unlike Fairchild and Sullivan, both of which claimed back-to-back titles, Hasay had to wait three years before returning to the winner's circle.
“When I won it freshman year I really didn’t understand the significance,” Hasay said. “It's such an honor to win it again. When I won it as a freshman I was thinking, ‘Oh maybe I can win four in a row.’ It's really difficult.”
Of course, if there was a year for a repeat winner, there would be no better candidate than this one with a trio of former champs in the 40-girl field. Apparently, though, the tiny spark plug from Colorado, McLaughlin, who held on for fifth (17:34) never got the memo on how it was supposed to play out.
For two and half miles the Colorado state champion, who only two years ago traded in her hockey skates to begin running, had plans of her own.
A classic frontrunner, McLaughlin (PennTrackXC.com photo by Don Rich) felt no need to change her style on the final day of the season.
"That's how I like to run," McLaughlin said. "This whole weekend everyone was saying this is not the race to do that? I already had my mind made up, ‘I’m going out hard.' I usually respond to how fast I go out and I don’t have that much of kick so I need to build as much of a lead as I could.
“I usually get nervous or stressed when people get close to me, so I try to stay away as a long as I can.”
Less than a half-mile into the proceedings, McLaughlin sprinted to a 10-meter advantage, challenging anyone to go with her; an invitation that went unanswered for much of the race.
Cruising through the mile and two mile marks in 5:22 and 11:11, respectively, her cushion ballooned to 10 seconds before the chase pack led by Hasay, eventually rallied. The remainder of the group included Chelsea Ley (8th, 17:49), Shelby Greany (7th, 17:45), Chelsey Sveinsson (4th, 17:31), 2006 champion Kathy Kroeger (6th, 17:34), Aisling Cuffe (12th, 18:03), Brasovan (2nd, 17:25) and Megan Goethels (3rd, 17:30). Emily Jones (13th, 18:11), Lindsay Flanagan (9th, 17:50) and Melanie Thompson (17th, 18:18) headed the next group another first down or so behind.
Said Ley, who at one point was running second with four-time qualifier and first-time all-American Greany. “I really cant believe what I did in the beginning. I was thinking to myself, ‘What am a I doing here?’ I said to myself cant let myself get down. I was going after Shelby [Greany] the rest of the way. We worked together the rest of the race. I just kept pushing for that lead pack. Shelby was just ahead of me and I knew how she raced so I just gauged off of her. Today I did the best job of running my own race.
(The chase pack climbs the hill for the first time in a PennTrackXC.com photo by Don Rich)
The big question remained: Was it too late for someone like Hasay or Brasovan to reel in McLaughlin?
“There was definitely points when I was doubting myself,” said Hasay, who was considered by many to be the pre-race favorite. “When Ashley passed me with two miles to go, [Allie] still had a big lead and I was starting to get a little nervous.”
Hasay competed in the Olympic Trials over the summer in the 1500 and even made the finals. That showed that she had gained additional experience to compliment her speed and could compete even against the highest levels.
Last year it was Hasay leading the way with a big lead for the first two and a half miles of the race. Brasovan made a move going up the hill and then glided down the downhill to make up all of the ground and finally pass Hasay. That was then. Jordan knew her mistake well and had learned from it. Earlier in the week she vowed not to repeat that same failed strategy.
Still after leading the chase pack’s pursuit of McLaughlin, Hasay again was unable to cover a move on the course’s final climb by the defending champion.
Brasovan (PennTrackXC.com photo by Don Rich) stormed past Hasay, then caught and eventually passed McLaughlin as the pair reached the bottom of the final descent. With a bout 600 hundred meters remaining, Brasovan surged to drop McLaughlin, and in her mind, hopefully put enough distance between herself and the speedy Hasay, who was lurking, and by the buzz that began to emerge from the finish line crowd watching the drama unfold on a large video screen, beginning to regain momentum.
“I knew if it came down to the last 100, she would probably kick it in a little bit faster than me because she has some pretty good leg speed,” Brasovan said. “But I knew hills were where everyone makes there move so I was like I'm going to pound up that hill and try to take it hard from there and just race my hear out until the finish.
“I think me and Jordan both had the same plan. At about two and half miles we were kind of like 'Ok we need to get this girl now or she's going to take everything. We're both pretty strategic racers, smart racers. We've been through a lot.”