Hasay Or Saina? What About D’Agostino?
November 16, 2011
Jordan Hasay entered Oregon in the fall of 2009 amidst the most amount of hoopla imaginable.
The prep phenom was the darling of the 2008 US Olympic Trials and went into college with unreal expectations. In our minds, her college career has been outstanding and she’s lived up to many of the expectations others had for her.
But there are two things she still hasn’t done and they are the two biggest things possible at the collegiate level – win an individual NCAA XC title and an individual NCAA outdoor track title.
In cross-country, Hasay has come close twice, as she was third in 2010 and second last year. If this were a Walt Disney movie, the storybook ending would be for her (and her team) to walk away with the individual and team crowns tomorrow.
Could that happen?
Yes, it could.
Hasay seems to be coming on when it matters most. A collegiate coach that we talked to the other day said if one had any knock on Hasay in the past it might be that she peaked a bit too early – running her best races in the middle of cross-country and not the end. We don’t know if that’s really accurate, given the fact she was third in 2010 and second in 2011, but we do know she is coming on big time this year. Early in the year, she wasn’t even the #1 woman on Oregon’s team and she was just seventh at the Dellinger Invite and fifth at Pre-Nats. At Pac-12, she was Oregon’s #1 for the first time and she finished second overall, losing to Stanford’s Kathy Kroeger by 3+ seconds. At the West Regional last Friday, she turned the tables on Kroeger in a big way and finished 11+ seconds ahead of Kroeger.
How could anyone beat someone as credentialed as Hasay, who has all of the momentum?
We’ll tell you how.
That is the 10,000-meter PR that Ms. Betsy Saina of #2 Iowa State ran this spring. Do you realize how good that is? It was 17th best in the world. For comparison’s sake, Hasay’s 4:12 1,500 was 169th best in the world and her 15:44 5,000 was 182nd best in the world.
Given the fact that she’s run 31:15, it seems like we almost should just end the preview right now.
But Saina hasn’t always excelled at XC – she was only 9th last year (88th in 2010 and 141st in 2009), and she’s not undefeated on the year (more on that later). Thus, we guess it’s possible she loses, but Hasay faces a monumental challenge.
One thing is certain – Saina, like Hasay, wants the double titles. Saina told the Iowa State Daily:
“I’m a different runner than I was a year ago. Confidence has been the key to my success, and I know I can do way better than the ninth-place finish I had last year. I want to win the title; if it doesn’t happen, I want to know that I did my best.”
She has ample reason to be confident. Last year, she was 9th when she had bests of 15:50 and 33:13. Now her PRs are 15:36 and 31:15.
Saina’s One Loss
We said above that Saina did lose one race this year. At the Wisco Invite, Cal Poly’s true frosh Laura Hollander took down Saina.
A shocking win indeed, but that was five weeks ago. Moreover, we heard from one collegiate coach who thought that the only reason Saina lost to Hollander was because Saina let her get too far ahead and couldn’t quite run her down at the end.
At the West Regional, the previously unbeaten Hollander was run down by Hasay and finished as the runner-up (ahead of Kroeger) – some 6+ seconds behind Hasay.
Regardless, Hollander will be the hunt. We think she’s a little bit past her peak but her run has been remarkable. If she wins, she’ll become only the second true frosh to win the individual women’s title (Wisconsin’s Suzie Tuffey won in 1985).
We expect this to come down to Hasay, Saina and Hollander, but last year’s third placer Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth can’t be ruled out. D’Agostino had a remarkable sophomore year last year, as she was third in cross and won the 5,000 outdoors before missing out on the Olympic team in heartbreaking/thrilling fashion. But D’Agostino didn’t race at all in October as she missed both the Wisconsin meet and her conference meet (Heps). We don’t see how someone misses that much time and still wins. Yes, she’s an incredible talent and yes, she won the Northeast Regional, but Saina has run 31:15 and didn’t miss any time. That being said, there is something to having all the pressure off of you and D’Agostino faces no team pressure like Hasay & Saina and no time pressure as she’s only a junior. More: Abbey D’Agostino Looking to Be First Ivy Leaguer to Win NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Kroeger was good enough to beat Hasay at Pac-12, so she can’t be ruled out. Neither can Wichita State’s Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton, who was 12th last year. The 15:26 performer won Pre-Nats where she was nearly 20 seconds up on the 5th-placed Hasay. But Saina got the best of Tuliamuk-Bolton at the Regional and thus we think Saina is the woman to beat.
The win at the regional for Saina over Tuliamuk-Bolton was very important in our minds. Many people may have forgotten but Tuliamuk-Bolton started her college career at Iowa State (Side note: How good would Iowa State be if she hadn’t left?) and was teammates with Saina. Both years, Tuliamuk-Bolton was way better than Saina at NCAAs (Tuliamuk-Bolton was 13th in 2010 and Saina was 88th; in 2009, Tuliamuk-Bolton was 85th, Saina141st). But the regional win for Siana ended any fears we’d have about her having a mental block.
The runner-up at Pre-Nats behind Tuliamuk-Bolton was UTEP’s Risper Kimaiyo. The 15:48 performer can’t be ruled out 100% either.
LRC Prediction: Our heart says Hasay but our brain says Saina. Saina FTW. The LRC faithful only are picking Saina 4th. Fans predictions here.
More: LRC Women’s Team Preview: Oregon Or Florida State? What About Darkhorse Providence?
MB: *Jordan Hasay is peaking at the right time and will win Nats *Hasay Over Hollander *Wisconsin 6k winner – Hollander, first 6k ever
*Abbey D’Agostino Looking to Be First Ivy Leaguer to Win NCAA Cross Country Championships