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In the Mississippi Valley,
In the Crescent Bend
Stands our loved and noble Xavier,
Far her praises send.
Wave her colors bear them onward
Gold and white so true
Hail to thee, all hail, dear Xavier
Hail, all hail, X.U.!
Xavier, ever be our guide
And lead us on the way,
Through life's journey, onward, upward
To the eternal day. (Refrain)
Rolland's debut: All-America in long jump, 4.0 GPA at XU
the start of practice in October. Devinn never missed a workout,
and her grades never suffered."
XU track and field standout Devinn Rolland displays her NAIA All-America plaque and
her three conference championship medals.
July 18, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — After two semesters
at Xavier University of Louisiana, Devinn Rolland has carved a
unique niche in XU history.
A chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from
the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, La., Rolland is the first XU freshman student-athlete
to be named All-America. And she's the first from Xavier to record a
4.0 grade-point average for both semesters during an All-America year.
Rolland was named NAIA All-America after
finishing sixth May 24 in the long jump
— she produced a personal record of 19 feet, 5½ inches on her fifth
of six jumps — at the national outdoor
track and field championship meet in Marion, Ind. The top eight in each
individual event and all four runners from the top eight relay teams
received that honor. Nearly three weeks earlier, she completed her
second straight XU semester with all A's.
Rolland also qualified for the NAIA meet in the
100- and 200-meter dashes. In both events she reached the semifinals.
"I'm not surprised," said Nancy Walsh, her
basketball coach at Cabrini High School in New Orleans. "Devinn is
amazing. Her senior year we did early morning preseason conditioning several days a week
. . . from the start of school in August until
Rolland was a Cabrini salutatorian and a National
Achievement Scholarship recipient. It's her academic success which enabled
her to attend Xavier on a Board of Trustees Scholarship, a full cost-of-attendance award that she'll keep for 2012-13 because of her outstanding grades.
"You have to study," Rolland said. "You have to stay
on top of your academic work because if you don't, it'll get difficult."
It seems that the only difficulty Rolland has encountered
is deciding to participate in track and field. She says she's always been fast —
"When I was younger, I was always beating the other kids when we raced on the
playground" — and an uncle in coaching encouraged her to formally compete.
Rolland remembers attending one practice for a local age-group team, but
she didn't continue.
Finally, after one year at Cabrini, Rolland joined
the track team in ninth grade. "I thought it would be too tough," she said.
But her performances suggested otherwise.
Rolland was a Class 4A state champion outdoors as a sophomore in the long jump
and won another 4A state title in the 200 a year later. As a senior at the 4A
outdoor meet she placed second in the long jump, third in the 200 and anchored a pair of top-three
relay teams. Cabrini scored 64 points to finish second, its best finish
ever at the state meet.
"To me, Devinn is the complete student-athlete,"
Cabrini track coach Rudy Horvath said. "She's bright. She's competitive.
She's very coachable. And to top it all off, she's a phenomenal athlete."
Rolland faced another do-I-or-don't-I
decision at Xavier. Coach Joseph Moses —
who revived the XU track program by
entering some of his cross country runners in meets during the spring 2010 semester
and had followed Rolland's Cabrini career —
had an open-arm welcome ready for her. But, once again, she had doubts.
"I was very close to not running track," Rolland said. "I thought I wouldn't
be able to handle it and stay on top of my studies. But when I got to orientation
in August, I decided to give it a try and see what happened."
What happened was Rolland's usual standard of excellence.
She handled all challenges in the classroom. Though she didn't relish
weight training and the resulting soreness, eventually she got stronger.
"Devinn had an awesome year," Moses said.
XU's GCAC outdoor track champions
of the past two seasons
5,000 — Kwame Jackson, 17:49.84
100 — Devinn Rolland, 11.87
200 — Devinn Rolland, 24.51
800 — Zahri Jackson, 2:24.41
1,500 — Catherine Fakler, 5:00.81
Long Jump — Devinn Rolland, 17-10¼
Shot Put — Keldra Hall, 37-2½
1,500 — Matt Pieri, 4:28.49
5,000 — Matt Pieri, 16:55.88
Women (1st in team standings)
400 — Brianna Dekine, 57.51
400 Hurdles — Ashley Taylor, 1:05.78
4 x 400 Relay — Marchelle Jones, Brianna Dekine, Ashley Taylor, Dominique Webb, 4:00.72
4 x 800 Relay — Yazmin Ramirez, Donyé Coleman, Rubeneisha Cooper, Brianna Dekine, 10:19.02
Shot Put — Keldra Hall, 36-5
At the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships on
April 28 at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, Rolland was the only female
to win three individual events. She beat defending champions in the 100 and
long jump and finished first in the 200. All three of Rolland's winning
marks were better than those of the previous year. Her times of 11.87 seconds
in the 100 and 24.51 in the 200 were personal records.
Her long jump PR at the NAIA meet qualified her for
the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Bloomington, Ind.,
in mid-June. Though she finished 11th out of 19 jumpers and did not qualify
for the U.S. team which competed at the IAAF World Junior Championships this month
in Barcelona, Spain, Rolland finished ahead of NCAA Division I athletes
from Kent State, North Texas and Appalachian State. And, according to Moses,
she took another positive step just by competing.
"Devinn has just begun to scratch the surface in
track and field," Moses said. "She's a special young lady
with tremendous natural ability. She will get better the longer she competes
because of the experience she'll gain. Going to NAIA nationals and going to USA juniors
opened her eyes to what's out there. I expect her to get PRs in the sprints
and the long jump next season."
This XU program made noise a year ago, too.
With the help of several basketball
players, who combined to score nearly one-third of the the Gold Nuggets' points,
Moses coached Xavier's women to the 2011 GCAC outdoor championship, edging crosstown rival Dillard by 5½ points.
The women's 4x400 relay team — Marchelle Jones, Brianna Dekine, Ashley
Taylor and Dominique Webb — competed at the 2011 NAIA meet.
"Track at Xavier has a long tradition of success,"
Moses said. "I think the potential is here for a team to win a