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Willis Wins World U20 Title

Aug 4, 2022

CALI, Colombia – The Stanford track and field community can't help but be excited after stirring performances by Roisin Willis and Juliette Whittaker at the World Under-20 Championships, which concluded Thursday.

On Wednesday, Willis set a meet record of 1:59.13 in the women's 800 final to capture the title, and Whittaker took third in 2:00.18. Willis and Whittaker will be freshmen at Stanford this fall. 

On Thursday, Garrett Brown concluded his freshman season by placing fourth in the men's pole vault at 17-2 ¾ (5.25 meters). 

Willis came through 400 in 59.41 and held the lead until Switzerland's Audrey Werro bolted into the lead as they approached the final turn. However, Willis responded with a kick and passed Werro over the final 50 meters to take the victory.  


Roisin Willis set a World U20 Championships record. Photo by World Athletics. 

Willis broke two minutes for the first time while running the second-fastest time ever by an American high school runner. The record-holder is Whittaker, at 1:59.04. They now are the third- and fourth-fastest U.S. runners ever under 20. 

Willis becomes the third athlete with Stanford ties to win a World U20 gold medal. Last year, Udodi Onwuzurike, a Stanford freshman in 2022, set a Nigerian U20 record of 20.21 to win the gold in the men's 200. Olivia Baker '18 won gold for the U.S. in the women's 4x400 relay in 2014. 

Brown cleared his first four heights, catching 17-2 ¾ on his first try. However, he hit a wall at 5.35 (17-6 ½), a height cleared by the first three placers. 

Thus concluded a fine freshman season for Brown, who, on July 9, broke the Stanford freshman record by jumping 17-9 ¼ (5.42). Olympian Toby Stevenson set the previous mark of 17-8 ¾ (5.41 meters) in 1997. 

The final 2022 Stanford athlete competing this season is Onwuzurike at the Commonwealth Games. Onwuzurike placed second in his heat (21.18) in the first round of the 200 on Thursday and races in the semifinals on Friday in Birmingham, England.