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Roloff runs for fun: Hoquiam to honor its four-time state champion

Jun. 5—Later this month, the city of Hoquiam and the Hoquiam school board will once again honor Jane Roloff after the Hoquiam High School senior track and field superstar won three state championships in late May.

This may becoming a bit routine for Roloff, who was honored by the city in the fall after winning just the second state cross-country championship in school history, but it's nothing new for a community to honor a champion it can be proud of.

Winning one state title is a monumental task, let alone three, even for the dedicated Roloff, who was looking to put past state-championship meet disappointments behind her.

"Last year I placed sixth in the mile, so anything better than I had last year I was going to be happy with," said the University of Portland commit. "My sophomore year at state I ran the 3200 and I was really ready going into it and I just had a really disappointing race. My junior year I was hoping to redeem myself. I did OK in the 1600, but again, I had a pretty bad race in the 3200, so it meant a lot to not only going out there and compete and win the events that I ran, but also that I felt good and I had races to be proud of when I didn't feel that way in the past. It was really satisfying and rewarding to overcome the fear of under-performing once I get to state."

Roloff's state journey began with the race she "really wanted the most," the 1600 meters — or mile — on May 23.

"It was my first race and it's the race I liked the most this year. I was so close to breaking five (minutes), so I really wanted to put my best effort into that one," she said.

Roloff broke five minutes with a time of 4:58.86 to shatter her own school record in winning the second state championship of her senior year, and her first in track and field.

"That one was tough because I had to go out there and hope I could keep the lead the whole time because nobody else took it out super hard," said Roloff, who admittedly isn't a fast starter and likes to have other runners set the pace. "I was really happy with how I ran that one, all things considered. That was the one I wanted the most and the one that I was probably the most nervous for."

Now a two-time state champion in two different disciplines, Roloff went out and had more fun, a theme that has led her to so much success in her senior year.

Next up was qualifying for the 800, which she did on May 24 before what would turn out to be a busy final day of the season, running the 800 final followed by the 3200 a little over one hour apart from one another on May 25.

Not an ideal situation for a distance runner as the time crunch had Roloff wondering how her legs would hold up in the most important races of her high school career.

"I definitely thought it was going to affect me more just based on the previous times I've ran the 800, my legs have been pretty tired," said Roloff, who didn't figure on running the 800 until a performance in late April had her and Hoquiam coaches Chad Allan and Dave Beeler believing she could add a third event.

At the Jesuit Twilight Relays on April 26, Roloff won the 1500 with a time of 4:37.25, setting a new school record in the process.

One day later, she performed well above her expectations to win the 800 at the Shelton Invitational, winning the event and setting another school record with a time of 2:14.94.

"I definitely surprised myself in that 800. I had a big (personal record) and ran quite a few seconds faster than I thought, so after that race I knew if I didn't run it at state I would probably regret it. If I wouldn't have ran such a huge PR, I probably wouldn't have decided to add it because I wouldn't want to sacrifice my 3200 or 1600, but I knew I had a shot."

That experience proved fruitful come the state tournament, as Roloff won her second championship of the meet with a time of 2:16.61 in the 800.

With not much time to recharge, Roloff went out and completed her state sweep of the distance races, winning the 3200 with a time of 11:09.44.

"I think after winning the 800 I had a lot of adrenaline going, so I was still pretty excited for the 3200. I definitely didn't run as fast as a time in the 3200 that I wanted, my legs were tired, but I'm pretty happy with it. The time in between was not as bad as I anticipated, so I was really happy about that," she said. "I knew the times going into the 3200 and I think I could've ran a faster time had I some other girls that were pacing to stick with, but I think at that point I was pretty mentally tired and it was kind of hard to pace myself to a PR."

Track and field is a sport where athletes compete all season against themselves, focusing on self-improvement to set new personal bests until the "important" meets, where the focus changes to qualifying for regional and state championships.

At the state meet, it's all about winning. The PRs are just a nice bonus.

In the past, the pressure of winning at big meets has worked to Roloff's detriment, leading to a switch in mindset that led to her cross-country state title in the fall and an impressive 8th-place finish in the 3200 at the prestigious Arcadia (California) Invitational on April 5.

Simply put: Roloff runs for fun.

"Being able to go into races knowing that I don't have to compare it to the years I had prior kind of takes the pressure off. I know I really have nothing to lose and if I go out there and give my best, that's all I can do," she said. "I try not to stress too much about placement or time because anything can happen and anything can change. It's trying to take the pressure off and just have fun because that's really what it's all about. You can't be disapointed if you had a good time running. I think that has really helped me a lot. Just do my best because you can't really do better than that."

Turned out Roloff's best put her in rare company as one of the area's greatest prep distance runners and cemented her spot as a future Hoquiam High School Hall of Famer.

"It's kind of funny because I obviously didn't start out doing it to accomplish these things. I think it's interesting that I really don't set huge goals because that can be scary sometimes," she said. "It's definitely exciting and not what I expected. "My favorite thing about running is that everybody is trying just as hard and we are all out there trying to do the same thing. It's really different than the other sports that high school offers. You really learn a lot about yourself."

What we've learned about Roloff is when hard work, dedication, good coaching and the right mindset are sprinkled into the mix, a young athlete can reach great heights.

"I felt like I didn't have that much to lose," Roloff said. "I was just trying to end my career with the best that I could give."