Kara Hallock credits teammate Saskia McNairy with changing her approach to competing.
The Oregon State senior and Lebanon High grad said Sunday afternoon that she has had a tendency to be super tight or stress out at times.
But McNairy, a redshirt sophomore, has made it an emphasis to have fun.
That approach helped Hallock on a big stage this weekend.
Hallock finished second in the Pac-12 heptathlon in front of the home crowd at the Whyte Track & Field Center with a personal-best score of 5,551 points. Her previous best was 5,379 set earlier this season.
“That, I think, is how I really changed as an athlete is just trying to have more fun because if you aren’t having fun what’s the point of doing it,” Hallock said. “So I think that helped a lot, so I give her a lot of props for that.”
McNairy also had a strong showing, placing seventh with a personal best of 5,092.
Hallock was fourth after the first four events on Saturday, but had a victory in the long jump, then went second in the javelin to move into striking distance of Washington State’s Alissa Brooks-Johnson heading into the final event — the 800 meters.
She needed to defeat Brooks-Johnson by 3 seconds to overtake her for the title. Hallock finished seventh in 2 minutes, 23.10 seconds while Brooks-Johnson was third in 2:19.57. It was the second title for Brooks-Johnson.
“I was really nervous, the 800 is hard no matter what, especially with six events beforehand,” Hallock said. “Of course I wanted to try to win but that wasn’t in the cards so I’m still super happy with second place. I was hoping for a top three so second place is awesome.”
Hallock won the long jump with a mark of 19 feet, 4 inches. She followed that up with a personal best of 139-1 in the javelin, good for second.
Hallock said the javelin performance was special.
“Looking back to my freshman year of college throwing like 80 feet, so that’s a huge PR for me and I’m really proud of that,” she said. “I’ve worked a lot this year to try to get it better and all my hard work paid off for sure.”
Hallock entered the weekend with the 25th best score in the nation with the top 24 advancing to the NCAA championships, at Hayward Field in Eugene on June 7-10.
She will find out if her score this weekend will be good enough to qualify after other conferences complete their championship events next weekend.
“It’s going to be super close — (5,600) is probably for sure,” Hallock said. “So I’m super close but cross my fingers it gets me in there.”
McNairy also had a sensational meet, setting a personal best by 284 points.
On Sunday, she tied for third in the long jump (18-7¾), was fifth in the javelin (127-4) and 10th in the 200 (2:28.12).
“To be able to score 5,000 is just amazing for me,” said McNairy, who battled mono her freshman year (2014-15) and redshirted last season. “I had a lot of PRs this weekend which I’m really thankful for.”
It was almost a disaster for McNairy early on Sunday as she struggled in the long jump and the javelin.
“I about gave myself a heart attack on those,” she said. “I scratched my first long jump, didn’t jump well on the second and the third was almost a scratch but I got a PR on that to pull it out.
“Then the (javelin), the first two throws were not great and then my third one I just had to relax and tell myself that I just needed to have fun like I was going into it like practice and I kind of got one out there.”
Like Hallock, McNairy said it has been great having a teammate to compete against every day.
“We definitely balance each other out and we push each other in practice, so it’s great to have her out here and great to have her to practice with as well,” McNairy said.
The Beavers will take 10 points into the Pac-12 championships next Saturday and Sunday at Hayward Field in Eugene.
Hallock said she will likely compete in the long jump and the 100 hurdles.
“We’re coming in at a big advantage right now, 10 points the weekend beforehand so that’s awesome.” Hallock said. “I hope it gets the rest of the team fired up and ready to go for next weekend.”