NCAA Outdoor Championships: Whittaker sweeps 800 and Willis takes second

Published June 10, 2024, 10:52 a.m., last updated June 13, 2024, 3:48 p.m.

Sophomore middle-distance runners Juliette Whittaker and Roisin Willis finished 1-2 in the women’s 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last Saturday.  

Whittaker, who won the women’s indoor 800 meters in March, completed an indoor-outdoor sweep and set a Stanford outdoor record after running a time of 1:59.61. Willis clocked a 2:00.17, marking her collegiate outdoor best and the No. 3 time in Stanford outdoor history.  

This was not the first time Whittaker and Willis went 1-2 at the national championships. As freshmen at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Willis won the 800 meters and Whittaker came in a close second. 

“It’s one thing to work hard and succeed by yourself, but it’s another thing to turn around and see your teammate also succeed, and be able to celebrate in that,” Whittaker said. 

“It’s been an incredible past two years,” Whittaker said about her partnership with Willis. “Obviously, training with her is amazing. But just being around her… she’s given me a new perspective and hope in life that I feel has really been special.” 

Before the race, all eyes were on LSU’s Michaela Rose, the No. 2 all-time 800 meters runner in NCAA history. Whittaker and Willis ran a calculated race and showed that they were the ones to watch instead.

Approaching the final turn, Whittaker was positioned behind Rose’s shoulder while Willis was boxed in. In the final stretch, Whittaker passed Rose and Willis kicked her way up from seventh to second. Rose ended in fourth. 

“I was expecting Michaela to take it out, and I was shocked that no one really wanted to take it,” said Whittaker after the race.

“Coming around the corner I felt good, but with 50 meters to go, I felt myself pulling away.”

Saturday was a family affair for Whittakers, as Whittaker’s sister, Isabella from the University of Pennsylvania, placed fifth, with a personal best 50.17 in the 400 final. 

With her record time, Whittaker is now the No. 8 performer with the No. 11 performance in collegiate outdoor history.

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