The big question regarding Thais Rolly is how in just 18 months did she get so good so fast?
As a freshman in 2019, the McLean High School girls cross country runner finished a modest seventh and 15th in district and region meets, respectively, then was 44th in the state meet, and was her team’s fourth runner.
This season, Rolly even surprised herself by winning all three meets, including the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls state championship in 18:36 on the 5,000-meter Oatlands course in Leesburg. Rolly surged past Battlefield freshman and runner-up Sailor Eastman (18:38) in the final yards.
Obviously, Rolly improved a lot. Again, but how so fast?
Rolly said she eased into high-school cross country running as a freshman, transitioning her body to get used to the sport. With the 2020 season postponed until this spring, she used that extra time to heal from a minor foot injury suffered during the indoor track and field season and to prepare for the eventual season. That included a spring-break trip with her family to Maui, where she hiked, ran up hills of volcanoes, surfed and swam, as did her older brother, Aramis, a senior runner for McLean.
“I never expected all this to happen. I was so surprised,” Rolly said of her three victories.
Rolly’s only lead in the state meet came in the final yards. Her goal was to finish in the top 10.
“I had no real expectations,” she said. “It was windy. So the first mile I stayed behind the first pack to shield from the wind. After the first mile I started to move up, then got near the lead.”
The state cross country championship was the first for a McLean High runner, girl or boy.
With the state title, Rolly won the triple-crown of girls cross country this season by winning individual district, region and state meets.
During the winter indoor season, Rolly finished fourth in the VHSL Class 6 girls 1,000 race and third in the region meet.
Rolly plans to participate in the spring’s outdoor track and field season after taking a few days off. She is not yet clear which races she will run, but will run relays as well.
n Marshall’s Haley Spoden was 26th (20:47) in the girls state cross country meet.