Hoquiam mayor, city council honors Jane Roloff for winning state

It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s rainy and it’s just above freezing outside. There’s fog coming from the mouth of a runner who’s pounding the pavement in the early morning hours, long before many people have even woken up.

You’d almost think it’s a Nike commercial. But actually, it’s cross-country star Jane Roloff.

More than a week after grinding to become a state champion cross-country runner, Roloff’s achievements keep rolling, but this time it wasn’t on the track or on a sidewalk miles away, it was from the warm and dry comfort of the city council chambers at Monday’s Hoquiam City Council meeting.

Hoquiam Mayor Ben Winkelman, a longtime Hoquiam Grizzly dad himself, read a city-wide proclamation to recognize Roloff’s “outstanding athletic achievement.”

Roloff, a Hoquiam High School (HHS) senior, won the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s (WIAA) 1A Cross Country State Championship, which took place on Nov. 4 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Winkelman’s proclamation noted the work Roloff has put into her athletic career.

“Jane Roloff has demonstrated exceptional dedication, skill and perseverance throughout her athletic career, embodying the true spirit of sportsmanship and inspiring other young athletes,” Winkelman said.

Roloff set a personal best time of 18:28.00 in the 5K (3.1 mile) race. Roloff was the only competitor among the leaders to run a personal-best time. Roloff also won the WIAA Athlete of the Week for Oct. 31 through Nov. 6.

“Jane Roloff’s unwavering commitment to her sport and her rigorous training regimen have culminated in her remarkable victory at the cross country state championship, where she emerged as the champion securing not only personal success with a new personal record, but also bringing immense pride to our community where it has been nearly 30 years since we last held an individual cross country state championship title,” Winkelman said.

Roloff beat Aaliyah Cassidy Yearian, of Port Townsend’s East Jefferson High School. Yearian, who placed second, entered the race as the favorite with the best 1A-Class time in the state. In the state championship, Roloff beat Yearian’s time of 18:38.80 by 10.8 seconds, according to WIAA.org. Yearian’s teammate, Fiona Fraser, placed just behind Yearian at 18:39.10.

It’s been 31 years since HHS had a state champion in cross country. In 1992, Michael Galeana won the AA Boys race with a time of 15:09.70, according to WIAA. Roloff is the first girls cross country state champion for the school.

So, in what looks like a severe understatement, Roloff is a rare one.

“Jane Roloff’s achievement serves as a testament to her spirit, discipline and self-belief, which have propelled her to this level of success in her senior year of cross country running,” Winkelman said. “Jane Roloff’s victory in the cross country state championship has brought honor and distinction to our city and we will work to elevate our reputation as a breeding ground for exceptional athletes.”

Winkelman said it was “fitting and proper” for the Hoquiam community to recognize and acknowledge Roloff’s “remarkable accomplishments.” The recognition was not just for the athlete she is, but for the role model she is.

Roloff’s dedication to her sport impressed Shane Krohn, athletic director for Hoquiam School District.

“Jane is a fierce competitor who has an amazing work ethic,” Krohn said. “Her determination is something I wish was contagious.”

Brian Shay, Hoquiam’s city administrator, also weighed in on Roloff.

“Oh, phenomenal,” Shay said. “I’m a runner, my dad was a runner, my daughter’s a runner. To think about somebody winning a state championship, especially in running, which is a tough sport, that’s a huge accomplishment.”

To do so in Washington state, with all its weather elements, is another way Roloff has impressed.

“If you think about running in the weather we have around here, the rain and the cold, you’ve gotta be a dedicated athlete to put in the time to put in the miles and build up the speed for running a 5k,” Shay said. “That’s a huge accomplishment. To hear she’s the first ever is just phenomenal. It’s really, really cool.”

Dave Beeler, who’s coached for 32 years overall and coached Roloff for the past two years, couldn’t have sounded more proud about the senior.

“First and foremost, she’s a student first, she’s got the whole package,” Beeler said. “She’s a great student and she works really hard. … This’ll be her fourth year for track. The first year was a shortened year because of COVID. It’s been a two-year process to get where we are right now.”

Two years ago, Roloff’s 5K time was 22:40. She accelerated that time by 4:12. Beeler championed Roloff’s drive to run through the gnarly weather conditions on Grays Harbor.

“It’s very hard to get kids to train year-round, but she’s done a phenomenal job,” Beeler said. “She trains most of the time in the wintertime by herself, in the dark, cold, wet, snow, whatever it is, she’s out there pounding the pavement and it really shows.”

Two years ago, before Beeler took over as her coach at HHS, Roloff was 84th in districts and she didn’t qualify for state. Last year, Roloff placed third in districts and ninth in the state. This year she was second in districts.

“Now she’s a state champion,” Beeler said. “It shows a testament of how hard she works. A lot of people can be runners, but not very many people can be state champions.”

With the population of high school runners in the tens of thousands — Beeler estimated between 15,000 and 25,000 high school girls — Roloff had to really dedicate herself. Beeler’s happy to see Roloff’s work pay off. But, according to Beeler, Roloff doesn’t act like she’s a star.

“She’s probably the most humble athlete I’ve ever coached,” Beeler said. “I’ve been coaching for 32 years. As I spoke last night, I have a hard time speaking about her with her there because she is so humble and she gets embarrassed even though she’s done a lot. She’s broken the school record probably three or four times this year. And where she came from two years ago at 22:40 to 18:28 this year, I mean, it shows the hard worker she is.”

Winkelman wants all of Hoquiam to take notice of Roloff.

“That this proclamation be spread throughout our city and that every resident be encouraged to celebrate and honor Jane Roloff’s extraordinary achievements and show our support to her and other Hoquiam student athletes,” Winkelman said. “That a copy of this proclamation be presented to Jane Roloff, symbolizing our gratitude, admiration and appreciation for her exceptional talent and remarkable victory.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.