FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -– There was a time only one year ago when Brianna Rollins was known to skip the occasional workout or skimp a bit on a weightlifting session.
On the surface it didn’t seem to matter, as she took second-place finishes in the NCAA indoor 60-meter hurdles and outdoor 100-meter hurdles before finishing sixth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
When the season finally ended, however, this Clemson junior had a realization.
|DI TRACK & FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS|
|Feature: Rededication makes Rollins unbeatable|
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|Day 1: Recap | Highlights|
|Day 2: Recap | Highlights | Final Results|
|Championship: Information | History|
|Preview: LSU not depending on history|
“I had such a great season,” she said, “and I knew I could have been a lot better if I actually was all the way in.”
The results were on display this season. In January, Rollins set a collegiate record in the 60-meter hurdles when she ran 7.78 seconds. She didn’t quite break that record this weekend at the NCAA DI Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., but in winning the event she set a meet record in the prelims and then lowered it to 7.79 in the finals.
“From the beginning, even from fall conditioning, Bri has been dedicated to what she’s doing,” Clemson associate head coach Tim Hall said. “She’s been extremely focused, she’s been extremely dedicated to the sport. She’s asking a number of questions in practice just to make sure she is honing her skill and honing her craft.
“That’s what you’re seeing now, you’re seeing all of the dedication, the sweat and tears she has put into her event, and she is reaping the rewards of it now.”
When Rollins arrived at Clemson from Miami Northwestern High School in Florida, she was already a top talent, having claimed a high school national championship in the 400-meter hurdles and the 4×400 relay. That talent continued to show in college, where Rollins qualified for the NCAA indoor championships in three events as a freshman and won the 60-meter hurdles as a sophomore, becoming the first female national hurdles champion from Clemson.
However, Rollins said she was frustrated by a back injury that forced her to redshirt her freshman outdoor season and lingered into her sophomore year. Although she was still having success, she was developing bad habits — she wasn’t fully committed.
Just after the Olympic Trials last summer, she re-committed herself to the sport.
“I go to practice on time, I complete all my workouts, I go to every lifting session, I go to my treatment every time I need, I get in the cold tub and just take care of my body,” she said. “I just do all the things I need to be great.”
Added Hall: “It takes that wake-up call, [her] realizing that, ‘OK, I could really be exceptionally well, not just good, I could be exceptionally well if I watch my diet, rest my body, hydrate my body, take care of those things off the track that benefit you on the track.
“We’ve talked about those things, and she’s figured it out.”
Rollins proved to be in a class of her own at the indoor championships this weekend, winning the 60 hurdles by .17 seconds. She also qualified for nationals in the 200 meters but elected not to race, as she uses the 200 more for training purposes.
Now her attention turns to the NCAA outdoor season, where Rollins will hope to win her first NCAA title in the 100 hurdles. She’s already looking past collegiate meets, though. Rollins said she is also hoping to qualify for the world championships, which take place this August in Moscow.
Hall doesn’t rule anything out.
“At this rate I think the sky is the limit as long as she continues to remain focused,” Hall said. “As long as she is putting herself in position where she is remaining healthy, I think she can do exceptionally well outside as well.”