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Patrick Finley: UA's Moline ready to clear another Olympic hurdle

2012-06-28T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:37:19Z Patrick Finley: UA's Moline ready to clear another Olympic hurdlePatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 28, 2012 12:00 am  • 

As his car curved away from the Eugene, Ore., airport toward Highway 99 on Tuesday, Fred Harvey imagined an announcer calling the 400-meter hurdles final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

In the Arizona Wildcats coach's head, his star pupil, Georganne Moline, battled American record-holder Lashinda Demus down the stretch.

It's Moline! Demus trails! Moline clears the last hurdle! Moline! She's going to win! Unbelievable!

Harvey pulled over his car, blinded.

Tears filled his eyes, and rushed down his cheek.

"When you see something this great on the horizon," he said, "well, then, I'm just a crier."

It wasn't the first time Harvey cried over Moline, whose Olympic dream starts with today's trials prelim.

The Pac-12 champion was the nation's leading hurdler entering the NCAA outdoor championships' 400 hurdles earlier this month.

The redshirt senior-to-be was expected to breeze through the semifinal heat - and she did, leading through the first seven hurdles.

At the final turn, she leapt, stumbled over the eighth hurdle and fell.

"For one instant," Harvey said, "my world came to a complete halt."

Moline couldn't believe it.

She traced the mistake to a lack of confidence - "I never felt like an elite athlete," she said - after being lightly recruited runner from Phoenix Thunderbird High School.

She usually takes 15 steps heading into the eighth of 10 hurdles.

For some reason, she didn't.

"My head wasn't where I needed to be," she said.

The favorite finished 21st of 24 hurdlers - maybe the most crushing disappointment of the meet.

She and Harvey cried together.

"I don't want that to happen again," she said. "I'm more determined."

The most important moment of that meet came during the 400-meter hurdle finals: Moline and her coach watched together.

It was important to Harvey that the winner finish slower than Moline's personal best of 55.12, set at the Pac-12 championships in May. And she did - by .10 of a second.

"When no one ran faster," he said, "I looked at her, and she knew exactly what I was thinking."

Confidence comes hard for the 22-year-old.

In high school, she never participated in a meet larger than the 4A-II championships - no junior nationals or club events or invitationals.

The UA was one of the few schools to offer her a scholarship; Arizona State, Moline's dream school, told her she could walk on.

In her first three years at the UA, Moline battled a stress fracture in her right tibia, a sprained disk in her lower back and a pulled posterior cruciate ligament.

The right knee injury happened right before last fall's indoor season, when she'd begun to feel her strongest in the weight room and fastest on the track.

"I did every pool workout possible, at 110 percent, just to try to get back," she said.

"I've been through so much. I try not to think about what happened to me.

"My competitors, when I get on the line, they don't care."

Moline has already met the Olympic "A" standard of 55.50 seconds.

To reach London, she has to advance today to Friday's semifinals, and then place in the top three in Sunday's final.

Until then, she'll be listening to Harvey, who this week texted her a Michael Jordan quote.

In his career, His Airness said, he missed more than 9,000 shots, lost almost 300 games and clanked 26 buzzer-beaters.

"I've failed over and over again in my life," Jordan said. "And that's why I succeed."

Moline hopes that holds true.

"I can't see myself not going to London," she said. "I see myself in the top three, with the best of the best.

"This is where I belong, I think.

"It's weird to think like this - I never thought I was one of those girls."

Making the Olympic team after flubbing the NCAAs would make for "a better story" anyway, she said.

Just think of Harvey's waterworks then.

"I see it," he said. "I see the final race, and her coming down the homestretch."

Today

• What: U.S. Olympic track and field trials

• TV: NBC Sports Network • When: 6 p.m.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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