With shaved head to honor brother's cancer battle, Central's Roehl breaks 43-year-old school record
Quinn Roehl wins his first state title, breaking a school record from 1980 in 3,200 meters.
BISMARCK — Grand Forks Central senior Quinn Roehl kept his hat on most of the first day of the North Dakota state track and field meet.
Just before warm-ups, he took it off. It was the first time Quinn's brother, Camron, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer this spring, saw Quinn's show of support to his older brother in the form of a shaved head.
"When I found out Camron had cancer, I took a mental note that I was going to shave my head at state," Quinn said. "With how close Camron got to the two-mile record, this race was for him. I was really grateful I got to do that."
Camron, a former standout runner at Central and North Dakota State, missed the Central school record during his high school years by less than a second. The record has been in place since 1980 when Jim Herberg ran 9 minutes, 22.74 seconds.
Quinn entered state with a personal-best this season in the 3,200 of 9:27.
On Thursday, Quinn ran 9:15.23 to win his first state championship.
"Camron is pretty close to done (with his cancer treatment) and indicators are in a good place," Quinn said. "I was glad he was able to make it for the meet and watch me race. I wanted to stay relaxed and have fun, but I really wanted to get this win for my brother. He means a lot to me, and he's my biggest influence. First and foremost, I wanted to give it everything I had, but I really wanted it for him on this one."
Roehl topped Owen Sondag of Fargo North, the No. 1 seed in the 3,200 meters entering the meet, by about 6 seconds.
"He was really patient," Central coach Sean Allan said. "He just got behind Owen and ran the first five laps behind him. When he made his move, he made it with a purpose."
Quinn now holds Central's school records in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and cross country's 5K.
"I have to remind myself and our coaches sometimes to sit back and enjoy these opportunities when we get them," Allan said. "You don't get athletes like this very often."
The win took a moment to sink in for Quinn.
"If I'm totally honest, I was just really exhausted," he said. "It's interesting. You cross the finish line, and you know you should be pumped but you just want some water. I kind of have trouble thinking after races, but I did think to myself, this was our goal and it finally happened. The emotions and processing of it are just now starting to hit me. I'm very happy and proud of getting to finally get that goal of mine."