US High Schoolers Are Taking the 800m By Storm

By: Sarah Derrick

Last Saturday, me and 85 people on Twitter – including former Olympians Kara Goucher and Molly Huddle – were trying to wrap our heads around how at the Trails of Miles NYC Qualifier Meet three high schoolers in the B Heat of the women’s 800 meter ran faster than standard for the US Olympic Trails. 

When I sent this tweet into the twitterverse I had only repeated what I heard announced the night prior while watching Citius Mag’s livestream; the official results show that the top two finishers, Roisin Willis (2:00.78) and Juliette Whittaker (2:01.34) ran the Olympic Trail Standard last Friday with the third place finisher Sophia Gorriaran finishing  in 2:02.93 less than half a second behind the standard. That’s okay for Gorriaran, though, the Rhode Island high school sophomore ran the Olympic Trails qualifying standard at an American Track League meet in Arkansas earlier this year.

The amazing times run by these three middle aged teenagers is showing the depth in how competitive middle-distance running is in the United States. While we could look at all the statistics, the records, and the history of the 800-meter Olympic Trails standard to understand just how fast Willis, Whittaker, and Gorriaran are, there is a simpler way to wrap our heads around it.

To understand just how fast these three women are, we simply can look at 5 things we could not accomplish in 2:00.78 – 2:02.93 minutes in our everyday life. 

1. If you are Malcom Gladwell OR Chris Chavez, you would barely cover a 600m (running their race through the 6 at 1:57) by the time they crossed the 800m line. I mean just watch it here. You can see it for yourself. Chavez talked about a rematch between him and Gladwell and all I am saying is they should invite Willis, Whittaker, and Gorriaran to join Izzy Seidel in straight up *destroying* the writers.

2. And speaking of Seidel, another thing you couldn’t do as fast as our high school elite 800 ladies race, is watch any of the Team Beam members (as Allie Ostrander put it recently) like our Marathon Olympic team member Molly Seidel or 2016 10K Olympian Emily Infield and then replicate what they did. They are all great content creators so it has nothing to do with their instruction and everything to do with the fact that you are going to have to use their discount code, purchase the product and then wait shipping days until you can start and complete the process. Obviously, you won’t be done in a timely manner whatsoever.

3. Another thing that you may think you’d be able to do quickly, but end up in a rabbit hole of google searches and thus not be able to complete as fast as 2:02.93 or faster, is try to figure out why Australia hasn’t released Olli Hoare and Morgan McDonald (or the rest of the track & field team) as members of their 2020 Olympic Team yet.

4. Oh, and speaking of Morgan McDonald, another thing that takes longer than these ladies straight up dominating the 800 is the wait time between chicken boy’s YouTube videos. (We get it. You are in serious training. But soon? Please?)

5. You literally cannot finish any one song on this Pump-up Playlist for Prom and/or the Olympic Trails. You know, for the select few like Willis, Whittaker, and Gorriaran, who will attend both before graduating high school. A list that includes classics like Kanye’s Stronger and recently overused in all running tiktok videos: Coming in Hot by Andy Mineo, Lecrae.