MAXPREPS 2008-09 FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Who: Jordan Hasay
School: Mission College Prep (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
Sport: Cross country, track and field
Numbers: Broke national 1,500 meter record at 4:14.50 during semifinal heat of Olympic Trials in Eugene Ore., had nation’s top 3,200 time (10:05.29) …Event (top time, US all-time rank) – 1,500 (4:14.50, No. 1), 1,600 (4:39.13, No. 3), 3,000 (9:19.60, No. 8), 3,200 (9:52.13 (No. 2).
Breakout performance: After reaching Olympic Trials final in July, she won her second Foot Locker National cross country championship, topping a field of 40 elite runners while covering the 3.1-mile Morley Field course in Lake Balboa (San Diego) in 17 minutes, 22 seconds. …She won her fourth straight CIF state and West Region cross country championships along the way. …In track, became first Californian to win four straight 3,200 titles.
Quote: “It’s gone by fast. I remember as a freshman saying that I have (three) more years (to break records) and now there’s none more left.” – Hasay.
Final voting: Jordan Hasay 26 points (3 first-place votes), Kayla Braud 21 points (3), Skylar Diggins 19 points, Brittney Griner 11 points, Kenzie Fowler 9 points, Hannah Werth 1 point.
Friday: Male Athlete of the Year
June 22-July 14: Top 10 2008-09 National Stories of the Year
Jordan Hasay had just completed her final high school victory lap following an unprecedented fourth consecutive CIF State Meet 3,200-meter title earlier this month.
A crowd of almost 10,000 at Buchanan High in Clovis, Calif., paid final respects and affection to one of the sport’s finest all-time prep athletes with a resounding ovation as she gratefully waved while taking small, sturdy strides around the quarter-mile oval.
This was an end of an era, a precious time in Hasay’s young life, a precursor to a no doubt bursting running career, one that everyone expects to land her on cereal boxes and on top of victory stands with anthems blaring.
So, when wrangled up by reporters, to recap her race and reflect on a remarkably triumphant and consistent career, the obvious question surfaced.
Now that it’s over, what was her most memorable moment?
As she pondered, reporters peppered her with nominees – the two national cross-country championships, the nationally-televised Olympic Trials performance last summer in front of 20,000 track-crazed fans in track-crazed Eugene, Ore., that produced a national 1,500-meter high school record, her eight state crowns, signing a full ride to Oregon, the monumental 3,200 showdown with then Davis senior Laurynne Chetelat in last year’s state finals.
But Hasay didn’t go there. She went off track.
It would have been easy to rush to a single glorious highlight where fans adored, photographers swarmed and historians implored.
But much like her early high school career, just as her coach and mentor Armando Siqueiros had reminded her day after monotonous workout after every big race, Hasay surveyed the complete field of her life. She was patient. She saw a much bigger picture.
“I’d just have to say the whole journey,” she said. “The races are great but it’s really about all the behind the scenes stuff. I’m going to miss coach Mondo. Words can’t express my gratitude toward him and for everyone who has been there for me all these years.”
That answer alone may have cemented her standing as 2008-09 MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year.
She beat out a mega-star field that included a pair of supremely talented basketball players (Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner), two softball phenoms (Kayla Braud and Kenzie Fowler) who put up amazing numbers and a fantastic volleyball standout with rich bloodlines (Hannah Werth).
Those were just our finalists who received votes from our six-person national panel.
The list of nominations from more than 20,000 high schools was enormous, but indeed Hasay, despite her diminutive stature, stood out from the rest.
National and track expert Rich Gonzalez of dyestat.com agreed that Hasay must be considered among the greatest prep middle and distance runners in U.S. history.
She was Gatorade’s National 2008 Cross Country Runner of the Year and just the third high school girl ever to grace the cover of Track & Field News (March 2009), which unanimously picked her 2008 Girls High School Athlete of the Year.
“She’s legitimately someone you have to consider,” Gonzalez said. “Both overseas and nationally she’s proven herself time after time at the highest level.”
What’s been most impressive over four seasons is her remarkable consistency.
“She just has no bad races,” Gonzalez said.
That’s no small feat considering Hasay had such small feet and abundance of energy as a freshman. She wasn’t even 5-feet tall but bursting with strength and energy and talent.
She won a national cross-country title as a ninth-grader but race-wise was extremely naïve. She just used her many natural talents to breeze to victories.
But many a young female runner has burned out quickly with so much success so early. Their bodies change, workouts don’t feel so flaweless, times often don’t improve. Frustration sets in and burnout occurs.
The tanned blonde with constant long bouncing ponytail grew about a half a foot by her senior year – she now stands 5-4 – and exponentially as a race manager.
Siqueiros taught her baby steps, to see long-range goals and attack year-by-year and then race-by-race.
The result has been a progressive rise to stardom.
“She’s learned how to execute a race now,” Gonzalez said. “At first she just ran away from the crowd. Now she can race. She can adapt. She’s comfortable running anywhere on the track.”
As usual, she ran right out front in her final race, winning by more than 18 seconds while taking her unprecedented fourth straight 3,200 crown, this one in 10 minutes, 5.29 seconds, the best mark in the nation this year.
It was well off her winning time of last year, when she nipped then Davis senior Chetelat in arguably the greatest high school 3,200 ever, 9:52.136 to 9:52.516.
Hasay could have probably doubled in the 1,600, but she’s matured and sees long-range goals. Doing both would have been extremely taxing and certainly not helped aid her ultimate goal of reaching the 2012 Olympics in London.
“I wanted to make certain to get four straight,” Hasay said. “It’s California and you can’t underestimate the competition. I wanted to be certain to be fresh. I didn’t want to risk anything.”
Instead, she enjoyed the moment, the race. She ran relaxed and fluid.
“It was great,” she said. “I tried to enjoy every lap of the race. The first mile I went out super fast. I think I just got a little too excited and then I was a little tired the last half.”
So tired she got a little delusional.
Even though she ran primarily alone the last half of the race, she kept seeing a shadow to her side, figuring it was talented Alex Dunne, who had actually collapsed with a couple laps to go and did not finish.
Turns out the shadow Hasay saw was her own, from the new shimmering bright lights at a spiffy new stadium.
Hasay wasn’t just racing the clock. In her final high school race, she had beaten her toughest foe ever, herself.
“I kept seeing the shadow so I kept pushing,” she said. “Finally I realized it was me (laughing). How stupid is that?”
Hasay is anything but. She’s a 4.54 student, a self-proclaimed “Type-A” personality with a grade-A talent.
Though her race and career tactics have morphed, her humble personality has remained perfectly in tact, Gonzalez said.
She didn’t have to tell reporters about that “shadowy” figure. But she’s as honest, steady and forthright as they come.
It all contributes to her greatness.
“She’s never changed off the track,” Gonzalez said. “She’s very humble, self-effacing. She’s always even-keeled with not too many highs or lows.
“She’s just a gem of a person and a jewel of a runner.”
Kelsey Braud (Marist, Eugene, Ore., softball): The smallish 5-5 senior shortstop recorded one of the more impressive high school marks on record – hitting in a remarkable 103 straight games. The Alabama-bound standout never went hitless in her four-year career, more than doubling the old high school record of 46 straight games. She led her team to a second straight state title and over her career, she batted a remarkable .612 with 211 runs, 108 RBI, 11 stolen bases (117 attempts) with an on-base percentage of .718.
Skylar Diggins (Washington, South Bend, Ind., basketball): The MaxPreps Player of the Year averaged 29.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 5.4 steals per game leading the nation’s No. 2 team to a 26-1 record. A 5-9 shooting guard, Diggins was also named MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and the WBCA All-American games in the same week. The charismatic southpaw takes her game to Notre Dame next season.
Brittney Griner (Nimitz, Houston, Texas, basketball): The Baylor-bound game-changer and YouTube sensation began the season with single-game national-record 25 blocks in a game and finished things off by going for 20 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks in the WBCA All-Star game. In between, Griner was dominant, averaging 27.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7.7 blocks per game leading Nimitz (37-2) into its first state-title game. Her size and athleticism is expected to change the scope of women’s basketball.
Kenzie Fowler (Canyon del Oro, Tucson, Ariz., softball): The 2008 Gatorade National Player of the Year was even better her senior year allowing just one earned run all season. The Arizona-bound right-hander was 25-2 with 344 strikeouts and a ridiculous 0.048 ERA in 147 innings. She had six no-hitters, three of them perfect games and batted .466 with seven home runs and 45 RBI.
Hannah Werth (Glenwood, Chatham, Ill., volleyball): The 6-1 outside hitter crowned the state player of the year in Illinois after recording a state record for career kills with 2,022. Committed to Nebraska, Werth was the MVP of the 2008 AAU national championships and had 606 kills during her senior year. A member of a very athletic family, her grandfather, Dick Schofield, played major league baseball for 19 years and her brother, Jayson Werth, won a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. Her father and uncle also played major league baseball. Werth also had 252 assists and helped Glenwood to a 28-9 record.
E-mail Mitch Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org.