An All-American In Two Sports, Sophia Gorriaran Presses On

* Sophia Gorriaran battles with Roisin Willis in the 500m at The VA Showcase

Photo Credit: Jabari Michael-Khensu

- - - 

"June 1, she jumps in, she's playing a [lacrosse] game, scores like five goals. On June 18, she's at the Olympic Trials." - Steve Gorriaran

By Ashley Tysiac - MileSplit Correspondent

- - - 

    Sophia Gorriaran is no stranger to the spotlight.

    The Providence Moses Brown School (RI) junior, 16, made headlines last summer as the youngest competitor ever at the U.S. Olympic Trials, lining up at the 800 meters. Most recently, she made news with a 2:00.58 time in the 800m -- a new U18 World Record -- at the Boston University Valentine Invitational last Friday. That was the fourth-fastest performance by a high school girl, indoors or outdoors, ever. 

    But her talent extends beyond the 800m. She's competed in everything from the 55m to the 3K and is ranked in the top 15 nationally this indoor season in eight events.

    More mind-boggling is that the teen sensation's versatility extends beyond the track, too. She has split her time between running and playing girls lacrosse, which is something she's done for most of her life.

    Steve Gorriaran, Sophia's father and track coach, can't count how many times he's addressed the infuriating question posed to him by complete strangers: Why does a track talent like Sophia even bother playing another sport?

    Related Links: 

    MileSplit Featured

    "I'm like, OK, so let me get this straight. I'm going to take a 16-year-old kid and tell her, 'You know what, honey? You are so good in track that you can't play lacrosse anymore,'" Steve said. "Where's the reward in that? The reward for your achievement is to penalize you?"

    Those skeptics underestimate the talent Sophia exhibits when she picks up a stick, as well as the strong-rooted passion she has for it.

    Sophia may be a World U18 record holder, but she's also an All-American lacrosse player, competing for state powerhouse Moses Brown and the well-respected Mass Elite Lacrosse program. She's fielding countless calls from coaches of top collegiate lacrosse teams, as well as coaches of the nation's best track programs.

    It's impressive to be a national-caliber athlete in one sport, let alone two. But for Sophia, being a multi-sport athlete goes beyond wins and records on the track and the lacrosse field -- it provides her more opportunities to simply have fun.  

    "Just trying to do my best with balancing and just try to have fun as much as I can," Sophia said. "Sometimes it does get kind of stressful, but I try to do the best I can."

    Sophia found her two athletic passions early on, beginning as a four-year-old. It was then when she was inspired by her older siblings Max and Natasha running for the Providence Cobras club team. 

    It was actually running that introduced Sophia to lacrosse. When running laps at track practice one day as a third grader, she noticed a handful of friends on the infield training at their club lacrosse practice.

    * Gorriaran's World U18 race in Boston on Friday. She ran 2:00.58

    - - - 

    Sophia said she knew she wanted in on the fun. Steve soon encouraged it.

    "One day, my dad told me to go try it, and I just really fell in love with it," she said.

    Even though her friends' team had just a week left in their season, the coach allowed Sophia to join the group for one of their final games. 

    Sophia took no time making her presence known on the field.

    "She plays never having picked up a stick and scores," he said. "The coach was like, 'OK, this girl can play.'"

    Photo Credit: Aisha McAdams 

    - - - 

    From then on, Sophia's spring schedule has consisted of countless hours of lacrosse practice each day, traveling to competitive tournaments as a member of Mass Elite.

    But Sophia's newfound love for lacrosse didn't mean she was going to stop running. 

    Steve saw it as the best of both worlds for Sophia. As an athlete, she was developing individual skills racing around the oval while also gaining a collaborative mindset playing a team sport.

    "Sophia's always up for fun," Steve said. "She's always up for a challenge."

    As Sophia grew older and each sport demanded more of her time, pursuing both became quite a balancing act. She plays in lacrosse tournaments when she can in the fall and winter ... while also running indoor track.

    "You sprint, you stop, they blow a whistle, you get like 10 seconds, you go again," Steve said. "We feel it's very good strength-building, fartlek-like workout."

    Come March, when both sports are in season, lacrosse becomes Sophia's main focus. She schedules her track workouts around her lacrosse commitments.

    A typical spring day consists of classes at Moses Brown, and then it's off to lacrosse. A 3:30 p.m. practice usually concludes at 6:15 p.m., and Sophia then takes the short three-minute drive to the track for a workout. Following the end of practice at 7:30 p.m., Sophia typically goes home to finish homework, but she'll sometimes take a detour to the gym to get in strength training.

    With so much responsibility to shuffle, Sophia said it remains crucial to handle it with poise while embracing the enjoyable moments of being a two-sport athlete. 

    "It's definitely hard to balance, but I just try as much as I can, making sure I'm not getting overworked," she said. 

    Sophia's schedule hinges on flexibility. Sometimes, there's no real formula to it. If she has a lacrosse game one day, she'll have a lighter running load the day prior and sometimes the day after. 

    "It's not some recipe or something," Steve said. "It can change by the day."

    Her coaches see Sophia's lacrosse training as an advantage, and both sports complement each other well. Frankly, Steve said, lacrosse competition compares similarly to a difficult fartlek workout.

    "You sprint, you stop, they blow a whistle, you get like 10 seconds, you go again," Steve said. "We feel it's very good strength-building, fartlek-like workout."

    Despite her complimentary success in both sports, many wonder what her intentions are for track and lacrosse come college.

    Sophia remains unsure on where she plans to continue her athletic career collegiately. She toured some schools last fall, but took a pause on recruiting activities this winter to focus on school and the indoor season. Her brother Max runs for Boston University. Her sister Natasha plays lacrosse for the University of Pennsylvania. 

    But Sophia's certain about one thing: She wants to compete in both sports.

    "She tells (coaches), 'I want to do both. Are you still interested in recruiting me or not?'" Steve said. 

    There's no doubt in Steve's mind that Sophia can successfully compete at a high level in both pursuits in college. Take last June, for instance, when Sophia continued playing lacrosse despite preparing for one of the biggest moments of her young track career -- competing at the Trials.

    "June 1, she jumps in, she's playing a game, scores like five goals," he said. "On June 18, she's at the Olympic Trials."

    This spring will look no different.

    In a month, she'll be lacing up her cleats and preparing for lacrosse, looking to lead Moses Brown to its seventh straight state championship. She'll jump into meets when she can and pursue more records, perhaps a sub-2:00 800m outdoors.

    But for now, Sophia plans to focus on what matters most to her as a high school athlete: Having fun and pursuing her passions. Both of them

    What's more, with women's lacrosse positioning itself for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics, could Gorriaran have an opportunity in later years to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in both track and women's lacrosse? 

    "Having still that competitive spirit and just to work hard and stuff and try to do as best I can in whatever I'm doing," she said.


    MileSplit has been covering Sophia Gorriaran's burgeoning career since 2020. You can find our coverage of the Moses Brown junior here


    Looking for a race video, interview or podcast segment on Gorriaran? We have you covered. Check out our full archive of our race coverage of the Moses Brown athlete.