Thais Rolly wins Cross Country state competition

Sophomore Thais Rolly placed first at the Virginia Class 6 girls’ cross-country championship on April 22. Competing against 63 runners, Rolly completed the 5km (3.1 miles) race in 18 minutes and 36 seconds.

“I never went into the race thinking I would win,” Rolly said. “When I won districts, I was so surprised. Then when I went on to win regionals, I was in disbelief. Now that I’ve won states, it’s just so crazy because last year I [placed] 44th in states so it’s definitely been a big jump.”

Rolly comes from a family that has a high interest in running. Her father is a professional runner and inspires Rolly every day.

“For him, running is kind of like a therapeutic experience,” Rolly said. “I think for a lot of runners it is — it just helps you calm down so I think just seeing him running and his dedication to this sport has inspired me to try my best.”

Rolly faced several challenges, including the windy weather, hilly path and other speedy contestants. However, as the event progressed, she found that her approach to the race paid off.

“During the first mile, the first pack of girls went out really fast. Usually, I like to start slow to end fast, so it was definitely hard to keep up with them in the beginning,” Rolly said. “But then throughout the race, they started to slow down and then I just kept up the pace. At the end, I accelerated but I think it’s definitely hard for me to start faster during a race.”

After losing the opportunity to partake in many running activities last school year, Rolly is looking forward to spring track.

“I wasn’t able to do spring track last year because it was canceled [due to the COVID-19 pandemic],” Rolly said. “So this will be my first spring track season, which will be fun.”