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FairfaxSportsMcLean High runner reflects on cross country career

McLean High runner reflects on cross country career

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With her high-school cross country career nearly complete, Thais Rolly recently reflected on what has been a highly successful three-season stretch when the McLean Highlanders runner became maybe the most accomplished state wide in the girls sport.

Starting in her sophomore season, Rolly burst upon the circuit by winning Liberty District, 6D North Region and Class 6 state championships.

As a junior, she repeated as the district and region winner,  placed second in the state, and helped the McLean girls team win district and region crowns and finish second in the state.

 This fall as a senior, Rolly became a bit unlucky, finishing second in all three races, with Herndon High senior Gillian Bushee winning the trio of meets.


Rolly slipped on leaves and briefly fell near the finish at the region meet, resulting in lost momentum when she was outleaned by Bushee at the tape.

Rolly was sick the day of the state meet, but ran anyhow despite not being at her best and still got second. In the district meet, she was again nipped by Bushee at the final.

“I couldn’t breathe at the state meet, and I wasn’t feeling all that great at the region either,” Rolly said.

The district and region meets were all run on the same Burke Lake Park course over those three seasons, with Rolly’s times lower each campaign. Her times this fall in those meets were her fastest of her career on the course, with a best of 17:06 at the district race.

Rolly’s cross country career began as one with potential during her freshman season on the varsity team at McLean. She finished seventh in the district meet, 15th in the region and 44th in the state.

“When I started running cross country my freshman year, I never expected this to happen,” Rolly said. “I just did cross country then for fun. I didn’t think I had the potential to become that good.”

With more time than usual to run, train and practice between her freshman campaign and the start of the months-delayed sophomore season because of the pandemic, Rolly improved signifcantly. She won the Liberty District meet in 17:53, more than a minute faster than her seventh-place time of 19:15 in the 2019 race.

The final high-school cross country race for Rolly could be the Champs Sports South Regional girls championship meet in Charlotteon Nov. 26. The top 10 finishers qualify for a national high-school championship meet.

Rolly hopes to be feeling better for the region race, where she finished ninth a year ago to earn a berth in nationals and place 34th.

“I still have time before that race to get better,” she said.

Next fall, Rolly’s college cross country career will begin as a member of the Duke University women’s team.

“I’m nervous but looking forward to that,” Rolly said.

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