EUGENE, Ore. – Another former Grizzly track and field standout is headed to the Olympics after Chelsea Hayes finished second in the women's long jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday at Hayward Field.
Hayes was called "unheralded and unknown" by the NBC commentators during television coverage of the event on Sunday. Going in to her final jump, she was in fifth place. But on that final attempt, she flew 23 feet, 3.5 inches to finish second in the nation and qualify for the 2012 Olympic games in London. The jump was 17 inches better than her previous career best and is the fourth-best mark in the world this year.
"Growing up, I never even thoughts about being at the Olympic Trials," Hayes told the News Star before the weekend. "It wasn't until last year I really started to take it seriously, and with this year being an Olympic year, I had to focus on being able to reach this point. It's really been amazing."
Hayes began her collegiate career at Butler where she was one of the most decorated Grizzlies in the rich history of the track and field program. She set nine school records during her time at Butler including long jump, triple jump, and 55, 100 and 200 meter dashes and was a seven-time NJCAA All-American. She later transferred to Lousiana Tech where she has won 14 Western Athletic Conference championships and was a four-time WAC Female Track Athlete of the Year and was a four-time NCAA All-American. She holds the school and WAC records in the 100 and long jump.
Hayes becomes the fourth former Grizzly since 2000 and the fifth in program history to compete in the Olympics. The best finish ever at the Olympics by a former Grizzly was Butch Reynolds, who won a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay and a silver medal in the open 400 meters at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea.
The Olympics women's long jump opening round is scheduled for Aug. 7 with the finals set for Aug. 8.