For someone who has only been competing in the steeplechase for two years, Jordan Hamric
has become very good at it. While many people may not be familiar with the steeplechase, West Virginia University track head coach Sean Cleary knows exactly how athletic you have to be to compete in such a demanding event, and it was her athleticism that caught his attention.
“Looking at Jordan from her high school performances, we knew that she was a very good all-around athlete. In order to concentrate on the steeplechase in college, you have to possess great jumping ability mixed with coordination, and Jordan has both of these,” said Cleary.
The steeplechase is a 3,000 meter grueling race, equaling 7 ½ laps around the track, in which there are five barriers on each lap. Runners encounter four hurdles per lap, for a total of 28 hurdles throughout the race, and seven water pits, which are around 2 feet deep. These water pits prove the most challenging, as runners must find a way to surge into and out of the pit. The goal, Hamric says, is to push off the steeple to make sure she lands far enough out to not be stuck in 2 feet of water.
“You only have seven water jumps in a race, you want them to be good.”
Hamric has worked hard to come into this season stronger in all aspects of her racing. After taking a few weeks off during the winter to heal from a foot injury, she took up swimming, runs seven days a week and has a rigorous cardio regimen, which has her in a great position for success. At times, it’s even hard for Jordan to completely understand all the accomplishments she’s had this year.
Currently, Hamric ranks No. 8 in the East division, and No. 18 in the country in the steeplechase, and has set the school record, and then broken her own record, all in her senior season.
“It’s something that I’ve wanted since I started here, and it’s actually becoming real to me, and it’s an amazing feeling. When I ran 10:17 at Stanford and broke the school record it was ‘oh my, I can’t believe I just did that!’
If you would have asked me a year ago, two years ago, I would have never though breaking school records would happen. I was hoping I would, but I didn’t think it would be by so much and happen so quickly, but it’s been quite a ride,” Hamric said with a smile.
It was at the Big 12 championships when Hamric realized she absolutely has a chance to make it to nationals. Finishing just 0.24 seconds out of first place, she knew her time would put her in a great position to reach her next goal. There is just one thing standing between Hamric and nationals: the NCAA Regional East Preliminary, taking place May 23-25 in Greensboro, N.C.
Hamric will be facing some tough competition: 48 girls will vie for a spot to nationals. 12 will make it. While the odds show Hamric will be facing an uphill battle, there is also quite a bit working in her favor. Many of the girls racing are former Big East foes, so Jordan has an idea of the types of races they will run. That alone, however, won’t make this race any easier. While it’s comforting, Hamric knows any racer has the ability to win.
So what will it to take for Jordan to make it to nationals? Running a similar race to the one she ran at Big 12’s will help, but mostly, she’ll rely on the instinct that’s gotten her this far.
“I kind of just feel the race out, because I don’t like to lead…I take the race as it is and evaluate what I should do. Every race is different for me,” concedes Hamric.
Jordan is hoping to make quite the impact in Greensboro this weekend, because a return to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships would have a very special meaning.
“I’ve been to Oregon three times, all to watch Karly (Hamric’s older sister) run, but it would be awesome to actually race on Hayward field. I’ve seen it three times, and it would be so amazing to be able to go out there and race. I would be beyond excited,” said Hamric.
Hamric is in the final leg of what’s been an incredible college career, and coach Cleary knows Jordan is more determined than ever.
“It has been an amazing journey for her to find herself in this position. ‘Never Quit’ has been her motto, and Jordan and I have been talking about this moment for two years now, and she’s ready for it.”
If she advances through the East Preliminary, she’ll finally make her debut- as an athlete instead of a spectator- on Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, the week of June 5-8.