Life in the fast lane
By Olivia DeValk
STEVENS POINT – High school senior, Roisin Willis, is fast. State-record holding, Olympic trials qualifying, fast. And she still has one year to go.
Last week, Willis was named Gatorade’s 2020-21 National Girls’ Track and Field Player of the Year for her second time. The award acknowledges Willis’ athletic and academic excellence as well as exemplary character.
The news of her award came after she earned her spot at the Olympic Trials with an 800-meter run time of 2:00.78. Only three high school girls in history have run an 800 faster than Willis.
Willis did not qualify for the Olympics, but made it all the way to the semi-finals where she finished 13th.
Now Willis is looking forward to her final season of high school running.
“I feel like I’m in a good position to make some improvements. I think I have a lot more work to do,” Willis said.
While her favorite race is the 800, Willis excels as a middle-distance runner. She holds the state record in the 1600 meter run, and her 400-meter dash is ranked number ten nationally.
A love for running runs in Willis’ family. Her mother, Breeda Dennehy-Willis competed for Ireland in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
“Something my mom always tells me is don’t compare yourself to others. I think in track you can get caught up with constantly living in the comparison and getting caught up in what other people are doing,” Willis said.
Willis hopes to take after her mother and also make a career out of running.
“I definitely want to have a career that’s successful and happy, and make a lot of friends in the sport and just stay healthy,” Willis said. “I don’t know if a certain accomplishment would make me happy. I would want to win those big medals, but I would also just want to have a successful career that I feel proud of.”