552. Roisin Willis & Juliette Whittaker, The Fastest High Schoolers in America


“It shows, in the past two years, how much we’ve both improved because we’ve had each other to push each other the whole way.”

Meet Roisin Willis and Juliette Whittaker: the fastest high schoolers in American history. Not only have Roisin and Juliette spent their respective senior years breaking records and taking home world championships medals, but they’ve formed a very special long-distance friendship along the way — though it won’t be long-distance for much longer. Both Roisin (from Stevens Point, WI) and Juliette (from Laurel, MD) are headed to Stanford University this fall. In this conversation, we get to know the 800m runners whose running resumes are already extensive. They both competed at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials last summer, as high school juniors. In April, Roisin was part of the distance medley relay world record-breaking team alongside Olympians Elle Purrier St. Pierre, Heather MacLean, and Kendall Ellis. In May, Juliette won the 800m race at Trials of Miles Track Night NYC, not only breaking the tape, but breaking 2:00 for the first time. Weeks later, she broke the 800m high school national record at USATF U20 Outdoor Championships. To cap off an exciting year and a very long track season, Roisin and Juliette got to represent Team USA at World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, where they both competed in the 800 — and became world gold and bronze medalists, respectively, in the process. Now, they’re resting up, reflecting, and getting ready to head to college — together.


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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • Juliette and Roisin’s plans to head to Stanford University later this month (5:45)
  • How Roisin got into running (9:45)
  • How Juliette got into running (12:45)
  • The story of how Juliette and Roisin met, and how they became friends (16:00)
  • Roisin talks about qualifying for the Olympic Track & Field Trials at Trials of Miles last summer (22:40)
  • What it was like for Roisin and Juliette to compete at last summer’s Olympic Trials (24:00)
  • How Roisin and Juliette navigate the pressure of being the fastest high schoolers in the country (26:50)
  • Roisin and Juliette’s race-day rituals (30:30)
  • Juliette reflects on breaking 2:00 in the 800m for the first time at Trials of Miles this summer (37:45)
  • How Roisin has worked on her confidence over the years (42:40)
  • Roisin’s experience breaking the DMR world record with Team New Balance (46:15)
  • All about the day Juliette broke the high school national record (48:50)
  • What it was like making Team USA for the World Athletics U20 Championships (51:00)
  • Reflecting on competing at World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia (57:30)
  • On the decision to attend Stanford, and who committed first (1:09:00)

For more, check out:

Watch Roisin & Juliette compete at World Athletics U20 Championships

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