Hayes running up records

March 29, 2012


Chelsea Hayes has made a name for herself on the collegiate and professional circuit with her record-breaking performances over the course of her track career. Center: Hayes poses with her WAC trophies for the various awards received during the tournament. Right: Hayes in action competes in the long jump. –Submitted Photo

Associate Sports Editor

Sports Reporter


It was all a series of fortunate events for associate head coach Shawn Jackson to discover a lightning fast track athlete who is making a name for herself in the track record books.


Seven years ago, New Orleans native Chelsea Hayes, a senior track and field star for Louisiana Tech, had no intentions to continue with her track career after leaving Marion Abramson Senior High School, let alone dreamed of even breaking records.


Little did she know that in 2012, she would be one of the biggest college track stars in America.


“Track at my school was not a big thing,” she said. “Sports in New Orleans is not a big thing, especially with track. I took it for granted and never practiced. It was more of an activity, something for me to do.”


In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans, forcing many citizens like Hayes, who moved to live with family in Maryland, to evacuate somewhere else.


“I didn’t compete my senior year of high school, which is when Katrina hit,” she said. “It wasn’t a big thing because I wasn’t planning on going to college with it.”


Jackson spoke with Hayes her junior year of high school when the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics were in New Orleans, but the two lost contact after the storm.


Hayes started to really notice her talents when she joined and practiced with the track team at Butler County Community College in Kansas.


“That’s where I first really started to get the feel of track,” she said. “One of the coaches at a school I went to in Maryland saw that I really had improved over the summer in jumping. I had a few friends from my high school there and he put in a good word to the coach at Butler.”


Four years later while recruiting former Lady Techster hurdler and jumper Tiana Davis, Jackson rediscovered Hayes and recruited her to join the team.


“I went to New Orleans right before Katrina to recruit for the Junior Olympics,” he said. “The hurricane hit and everybody relocated. I didn’t know where she was at for school. When I found her again at Butler Community College, we started to reconnect again.”


Once committed to Tech, there was no turning back as she has shattered many records across the country in her time as a collegiate track star.


Close to finishing up her senior season, Hayes has not slowed down.


She has claimed four All-American awards and is now second in program history to Bryant Wesco, who claimed five All-American honors in the triple jump when he was at Tech.


Hayes was also second in the long jump at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships with a jump of 21-8.25 (6.61m) and ran 7.24 in the 60m dash, setting a new school, WAC and WAC Championship record in sprints.


With all of her accomplishments, it was no surprise when Hayes was named the WAC Female Field Athlete of the Year this year.


That’s when everything changed. She became an All-American and currently holds eight records at the college level, including the outdoor events 55-meter dash, 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash, long jump, 4×400 relay and triple jump. Her indoor records are: 100-meter, 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash.


“It feels good,” she said. “I’m proud of myself. Out of everybody, it’s me. Going to nationals and placing second is my biggest accomplishment.”


After all of her accomplishments she has recorded, Jackson said Hayes’ biggest achievement has yet to come.


“From some point in time last year, we had a goal in mind to try and make the Olympic team,” he said. “We have to finish painting the picture and once it’s finished, then we can look back on it and be amazed.”


Head coach Gary Stanley says it is great for a local athlete to come to Ruston, compete with the Techsters and one day be able to compete at the next level.


“People get to that level of her accomplishment by being a competitor,” Stanley said. “She competes every day and is not afraid. As a coach that’s what you want. She has a great relationship with Shawn Jackson. She’s a national class sprinter and really good at long jump and sprints.”


Hayes said if track does not work out, she hopes to become a nurse to help other people, but she wants to make the Olympic team to represent Tech and New Orleans in the best way possible.


“I’m going to be sad leaving, but I know I’ll still be here with my coach’s training,” she said. “I try to tell the freshman not to be nervous at the college level. I tell them I was in your shoes before. I wasn’t good. It took me awhile for me to get where I am. It takes a lot of patience.”


Email comments to rjk007@latech.edu and dja014@latech.edu.


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