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2012 Olympic games a distant goal for Seton Hall's Rolle

LOIS ELFMAN Special to the AmNews | 11/18/2011, 12:09 p.m.

At last weekend's NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, junior Hughnique Rolle was the top Seton Hall finisher in the women's 6K.

Being the leading Pirate is nothing new to Rolle, who was the top finisher in all of her cross-country races in 2010, though an injury slowed her a bit this season. Now back to herself, Rolle is again firmly focused on her biggest goal: earning a spot on the Bahamas Olympic team for London.

"I have the national records in the 1,500 and the 3,000. I'm basically the face of distance right now," said Rolle, who won gold in the 3,000 and bronze in the 1,500 at the CARIFTA Games last spring.

The Bahamas has a tradition of great sprinters, but if Rolle, 19, qualifies, she would be the first Bahamian female Olympian in the distances. She said many of the well-known sprinters started at longer distances but eventually changed to sprints. Her early successes fueled her desire to continue on her original path.

"My coaches, what they didn't know they taught themselves," she said. "That's how I got better and better."

The 6-foot Rolle chose Seton Hall because she wanted a school that was neither too big nor too small. The proximity to New York was a positive for the part-time model. However, before she'd even finished her freshman year, the university decided to drop track and field but continue cross-country. "Everybody was upset," said Rolle, who is majoring in finance with a minor in accounting. A call home to her mother caused her to pause before making a decision. Although the option existed to transfer, she decided to stay.

"I thought if I like track so much, I should be able to do it anywhere. My coaches here continue to coach us." The cross-country athletes sit out indoor track season. They are allowed to compete in up to five outdoor track meets, which will provide Rolle a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

"I try to push myself as far as I can go-for myself and for younger kids in the Bahamas," said Rolle, "letting them know it's okay to do distance running and be different. Not everybody has to sprint."