USA’s Roisin Willis Wins World U20 Gold in 1:59.13

by LetsRun.com
August 3, 2022

Roisin Willis saved the best for last.

The high school senior from Stevens Point Area Senior High School in Wisconsin battled back to overtake Switzerland’s Audrey Werro on the final stretch to win the U20 World title at 800m in Cali, Colombia, in an U20 Championships record of 1:59.13, the second fastest time ever by an American high schooler. Juliette Whittaker, the American high school record holder (1:59.04), nabbed the bronze in 2:00.18.

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Roisin Willis Gets Gold

The race went out hard as Willis battled Werro for the lead on the backstretch and got it, hitting 200 in a quick 27.31. Things slowed the next 200 as Willis still led at 400 in 59.41 with Werro in second, and Whittaker content to stay in third on the outside.

Werro tried to pass Willis on the backstretch and took the lead heading into the final turn as she hit 600 in 1:29.50. Werro would open up a slight gap of a couple of meters on the final turn, but Willis still had something in reserve. Willis battled back on the homestretch and overtook Werro in the second half of the homestretch to get not only the win, but the first sub 2:00 clocking of her career.

Willis became the third American to win the World U20 title in the last decade as Ajee Wilson got the World title in 2012 and Sammy Watson in 2016.

Results

POS
BIB
COUNTRY ATHLETE
MARK
1
995
USA
1:59.13 CR
2
893
SUI
1:59.53 NU20R
3
992
USA
2:00.18
4
707
KEN
2:01.42 PB
5
862
SLO
2:02.78
6
535
GBR
2:02.89
7
315
AUS
2:03.44
8
484
ETH
2:03.62

Quick Take: What a season for Willis (and Whittaker)

Willis had to battle back on homestretch

Willis ran 2:00.06 in February to crush the high school indoor 800m record, but she hadn’t been able to get under 2:00 outdoors, running 2:00.03 at the Wisconsin state meet and being over a second back of Whittaker at USA juniors where Whittaker set the high school record.

Willis picked the perfect time to set her PR even if it left her .09 short of Whittaker’s high school record.

Quick take: JJ Clark has got quite the class

Both Willis and Whittaker are headed off to Stanford next month where they will be under the tutelage of one of the best 800m coaches in the US, JJ Clark. Clark is most well known for the 2000 US Olympic trials where he coached his wife, former American record holder, Jearl Miles-Clark, and two sisters Hazel Clark and Joetta Clark Diggs, to a 1-2-3 sweep.

Whittaker and Willis U20 Championships

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