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Mirror's Female Athlete of the Year — Jaleecia Roland
Recent Federal Way High School graduate Jaleecia Roland had quite the senior year.
The 6-foot Roland developed into one of the best all-around athletes in the area. She lettered in volleyball, basketball and track during her four-year career at Federal Way.
She played and competed in numerous state championship events, holds several school records and will continue her athletic career at the University of Washington in the fall. Roland signed a national letter of intent to compete for the Husky track and field team in February.
“It’s the school of my dreams,” Roland said. “I’ve been thinking about going there since I was a freshman.”
Roland can also add the title of the Mirror’s 2010-11 Female Athlete of the Year to her already impressive resume.
But all the accolades didn’t come without a little adversity for Roland. During her junior basketball season, Roland passed out in the lobby of a movie theater and had to be resuscitated. Two days later, she passed out again while sitting in class at Federal Way.
It took doctors a few months to diagnose Roland with a rare heart condition caused by a valve that never closed after birth. Basically, doctors found a hole in her heart.
Following the episodes, Roland was forced to give up last year’s basketball season after just 11 games. As a junior, she was averaging 6.2 points and 10.4 rebounds a game.
Roland was, however, allowed to participate in track last year and finished second in the high jump at the 4A State Track and Field Meet with a school-record leap of 5-foot-7. Roland also finished sixth in the triple jump with a leap of 37-5 3/4.
“(Doctors) let me do track last year because there is less running hard,” Roland said. “They just wanted to take some extra time and make sure everything was OK.”
Roland also sat out the first 13 games of her senior basketball season for the Eagles before doctors cleared her to get back on the court. Roland eventually helped Federal Way advance to the Class 4A state title game, where they lost to Lewis & Clark.
But track is where Roland’s passion lies. University of Washington coaches have stated they want the ultra-talented Roland to compete in the heptathlon in college, which includes the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200, long jump, javelin and 800.
Last month, Roland ended her prep athletic career with another impressive, all-around state track meet. She finished in second place in the triple jump with a school-record leap of 37-10, third in the 100-meter hurdles (15.04) and seventh in the high jump with a leap of 5-4.
Other nominees for Athlete of the Year:
Kayla Lipston, Decatur
The Decatur graduate will play soccer at Central Washington University soccer in the fall. Lipston is a 6-foot goalkeeper who was also a rare three-sport athlete during her tenure at Decatur.
Lipston led the Decatur soccer team to a 12-6-1 record during the fall. She posted a shutout in the first round of the 2010 state playoffs and was named first-team, All-SPSL South as a junior, when the Gators advanced into the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
“We have followed Lipston for a couple of years,” said CWU head coach Michael Farrand. “Her size, in terms of her height and range in the goal, will be good for us. We need to continue to improve upon our goalkeeping and we want and expect her to come in and compete for the starting goalkeeping job.”
Lipston, who graduated with a 3.8 grade-point average, also finished third in scoring for Decatur during the 2010-11 basketball season, averaging nearly eight points a game. She was also a catcher on the Gator softball team during her prep career.
Katya Bixenman, Beamer
The recent Beamer graduate was a solid all-around athlete for the Titans’ soccer and basketball teams. Bixenman was named the school’s Athlete of the Year, as was her brother, Cole, four years ago.
Bixenman was a defensive player on both the soccer field and basketball court, meaning she did a lot of the dirty work for the Titans. In soccer, Bixenman helped Beamer win the SPSL South Division championship, while tallying two goals and one assist.
Talia Walton, Federal Way
Walton had quite a senior basketball season at Federal Way High School.
The 6-foot-2 wing signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Washington in November, then led the Eagles into the Class 4A state championship game, where they lost to Lewis & Clark.
Walton was also voted the Associated Press Class 4A Washington Prep Girls Basketball Player of the Year, the South Puget Sound League’s South Division Most Valuable Player, Seattle Times’ Star Times All-Area, The News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year and the Mirror’s All-City Player of the Year.
Walton led the Eagles to a perfect 16-0 record in the SPSL South and to the West Central/Southwest District championship, while averaging 17 points and close to 13 rebounds per game. It was the third-straight season that Federal Way has played at the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament.
She also led the SPSL in rebounding during the regular season by grabbing 11.8 per game. Walton also led the league in blocked shots and was 10th in the league in steals (2.13 a game). She was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection for the third time.
Bailey Warrior, Jefferson
The TJ grad was impressive during her career with the Raiders. She was named the Female Athlete of the Year at Jefferson after participating in swimming and track and field.
Warrior swam at the 2009 Class 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships and helped the Raiders’ 200-yard medley relay team finish in fourth place. Warrior was also a sprinter for the TJ track team. Warrior clocked personal-best times of 12.95 in the 100 meters and 26.85 in the 200.