Moments earlier, Gorriaran announced her return to the Rhode Island high school cross-country scene in emphatic fashion. Competing in the girls’ Caswell Race as part of the Injury Fund Carnival held last Saturday at Deerfield Park in Smithfield, Gorriaran stormed out of the starting line and never once had the need to look over her shoulder en route to posting a winning time of 18 minutes, 37 seconds.
News segment on 15-year-old Sophia Gorriaran from Rhode Island, who has qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 800m and is also playing lacrosse this season.https://t.co/7ct3zfzdbH
— Fast Women (@fast_women) May 21, 2021
In many ways, it was business as usual for someone who’s been in a class all by herself since Day 1 of her freshman year – maybe even before she entered high school. Gorriaran wins again? We’ve seen that storyline unfold numerous times.
Much, however, has changed in Gorriaran’s world since the last time her direct competition hailed from the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.
Hypothetically, let’s imagine the look of astonishment on the teacher’s face when Gorriaran wrote “Participated in U.S. Olympic Trials” upon the 16-year-old turning in her first-day-of-school writing assignment. You know the one that asks students, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”
“It was one of the hardest races I had ever run,” said Gorriaran, who lives in Providence.
For Gorriaran, the time she spent in the company of Olympic hopefuls this past June has not changed her outlook. For someone who has the potential to one day emerge as a “once-in-a-lifetime” athlete, she remains humble and soft-spoken.
In RIIL circles, Gorriaran is putting her best foot forward to be known as a JAG – Just Another Girl. She wants to blend into the woodwork. Of course, it’s easier said than done considering her strong showing on a nationwide stage, yet Gorriaran seemed quite comfortable upon reentering the Rhode Island fish bowl.
“I love it here. I love the people,” she said.
For those who hadn’t seen Gorriaran in-person since she ventured out to Oregon for the Olympic Trials, the teenager seemed at ease while fielding a steady stream of compliments and salutations from the cross-country community upon clearing the chute at Deerfield Park.
“It definitely felt good to have people congratulate me,” said Gorriaran.
Looking back at her Olympic Trials experience, Gorriaran more than held her own as someone who went in with the distinction of being the youngest competitor in the women’s 800-meter field. She fought back from a slow start to break a sophomore class record that had stood for 45 years. Her time of 2:02.26 was good enough to finish fourth out of the eight runners in her specific heat.
How did you spend your summer vacation? Gorriaran’s bid to represent the U.S. in the Summer Olympics may have fallen short, yet you can’t put a price tag on the experience that figures to serve her well when the 2024 Games’ trials roll around.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!
We have some amazing news! Track and Field News, the leading publication in the country for track and field news both nationally and internationally, has named Sophia Gorriaran, the HS Indoor Track Athlete of the year! So PROUD!🥇https://t.co/HGkQ1ZWZvH pic.twitter.com/31okQofBSr
— Moses Brown School Athletics (@MBQuakers) April 1, 2021
“I was kicking and trying to make up ground, but so were [the rest of the competitors in the heat],” said Gorriaran. “I was happy with my time and setting a PR. That was exciting, but I really wanted to make the semifinals [of the trials]. There’s always the next Olympics.”
Gorriaran’s stay in the Pacific Time Zone wasn’t over after the trials. She returned to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, site of the high school-only Outdoor Nationals. She was one of two competitors to post a sub-4:45 in the girls’ mile run before flashing her speed by placing third in the 400 meters.
“Both were good races and featured a lot of good competition,” said Gorriaran.
In a nail biting finish at the 757 Showdown, Gorriaran won the 600m against pro athletes in 1:27.02
This ranks US No. 3 on the National High School All-Time list 🥉
It’s currently No. 3 in the 🌍
Along the way, she broke the So. national class record 😱https://t.co/ESsHa0cnvT pic.twitter.com/XxgGUeCiBA
— MileSplit US (@milesplit) February 3, 2021
After an intense whirlwind stretch, Gorriaran stored her running sneakers in the closet in July. Instead, she focused on lacrosse – another sport where she’s made her mark and attracted the attention of college recruiters.
“I was playing a lot of lacrosse … tournaments every weekend along with a few camps,” she said. “By mid-August, I started to train again for cross-country.
“Running-wise, it felt good to take a break from competing,” Gorriaran added, “but it also gave me the motivation to work hard again.”
There are in-state and out-of-state cross-country tests awaiting Gorriaran in the months ahead. None figure to be more eagerly anticipated than the expected state meet battle between Gorriaran and two runners from East Greenwich High – defending state champ Reese Fahys and fellow junior Rylee Shunney.
“I’m excited to race [Fahys] again,” said Gorriaran.
Roughly 10 minutes have passed since Gorriaran claimed top honors in her first running event of the 2021-22 school year. She’s back on the trail, this time as a spectator as the Moses Brown boys are now making their way around the Deerfield Park course.
Just another JAG? You bet, even if that JAG is now known as an Olympic Trials participant.