O'Hare takes on different kind of hurdle
June 10, 2009
When sprinting around the track, it's hard enough to manage the hurdles on the ground in front of you. Imagine if the hurdles were flying overhead as well.
But that's exactly what Texas senior Elliot O'Hare had to deal with during the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships two weeks ago.
Running in lane seven, O'Hare was in the top three with about 10 meters to go, when his competitor in an adjacent lane hit a hurdle with his hand, and then hula-hooped through the next hurdle.
"He went through the middle of the hurdle, hit it with his heels , and it literally popped over his head," O'Hare recalled. "That flew behind him, and over him. And then it actually went over my head."
O'Hare says he was lucky enough the hurdle didn't hit him in the head, but it still landed in his lane.
"I had to run around it to avoid it," O'Hare said.
And that threw O'Hare out of his rhythm, and all but out of the race, which meant it appeared he wouldn't qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in his final season with the Longhorns. A trip to the national meet was the one thing missing from O'Hare's solid resume.
He's scored in seven of eight Big 12 competitions in three different events, the hurdles, triple jump and 4x100 meter relay. But he could never get over the hump into the national meet.
"I think I was in third or fourth position (when the hurdle came into my lane)," O'Hare said. "As soon as it happened, I was like, `You've got to be kidding me.' This cannot happen to me right now, my senior year, in the race I really need. "After the race I was extremely upset."
O'Hare went through some emotional moments in the immediate aftermath with his family and friends, but meanwhile head coach Bubba Thornton was protesting the race. The argument was that O'Hare's path was impeded unnecessarily by the wayward hurdle.
After a few hours, O'Hare said an NCAA representative told him that he most likely would be able to qualify for the national meet, but he didn't find out for sure until three days later. As it turned out, because two runners were disqualified, O'Hare was able to qualify for the national meet based on his 13.89 time in the regional qualifier.
"It feels really good to have made it this far," O'Hare said. "It is a major accomplishment with everything that has happened to me along the way."
The amazing thing, however, is that the flying hurdle isn't the strangest thing to ever take O'Hare out of a race. When he was in high school, O'Hare said he raced while dehydrated and blacked out while going over the last hurdle. He hit his head, was knocked unconscious and had to spend an evening in the hospital.
"I think it's a great story," O'Hare said.
Until he ended up having to avoid a flying hurdle from another lane.
"It's another great story," O'Hare said. "I hope I can give it a better ending at nationals."