* Sophia Gorriaran in the Olympic Development 600m on Saturday at the Penn Relays
Photo Credit: Cory Mull/MileSplit
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PHILADELPHIA -- There was no time for season-debut jitters on Saturday for Sophia Gorriaran.
In her first race of the 2022 season, in a select Olympic Development women's 600 meter race at the Penn Relays inside a packed Franklin Field, the 16-year-old from Moses Brown School (RI) laced up against the defending Olympic champion in the 800m, a World Indoor Champion and Olympic finalists.
But if Gorriaran, who became the youngest female in history last year to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials, had proved anything over the previous season, it had been this:
Do not doubt her.
Gorriaran stuck with the crowd in the first 200 meters, made a small surge in the next 200m and then went to the outside and finished off with abandon in the last meters, finishing fourth overall in 1:25.22 and looking every bit like the emerging track and field star that she's shown to be.
"I just wanted to get out there and stick with them for the first 200m, 400m, and try to kick at the end," she said afterward. "I think I did pretty well and I had something left at the end."
Olympic champion Athing Mu, a Trenton Central (NJ) and Trenton Track Club alum, won the race in a new World No. 1 time of 1:22.74 while Jamaica's Natoya Goule was second in 1:24.09 and Nia Akins was third in 1:25.14. The top six finishers all now own the top six times on the World rankings, with Gorriaran's mark at No. 4 for 2022.
Along the final backstretch, Gorriaran said she could feel a spark of adrenaline as she soaked in the oohs and ahhs of the nearly 20,000-plus crowd at Franklin Field.
"I've never run in front of a crowd this big," she said. "I think this is such a great time, to hear everyone scream for everyone is a really great feeling to have."
Gorriaran's time destroyed her previous overall best of 1:27.02, which she accomplished indoors in 2021. The performance also became the second-fastest effort ever at the distance across any season, trailing only Mu's World U20-setting time of 1:23.57 back in 2019.
Gorriaran now owns the national high school outdoor record mark at the distance -- though the National Federation of High School State Associations (NFHS) does not govern the distance and it rarely is run across any high school season.
The previous 600m best of 1:29.13 was last accomplished by Bolles School's (FL) Caitlin Collier back in 2019. Only 12 high school girls have ever broken 1:30 for the distance across any season.
The next weeks will present the beginning of Gorriaran's spring season in Rhode Island.
On Saturday, she said she will spend the next few weeks working on speed training before turning her attention to a strength-based endurance block and will finish with some key meets -- she's also doubling her efforts on her high school lacrosse team.
"Just training for the majority of the spring season and just playing lacrosse for my high school," she said.
If her first race of 2022 was of any indication, Gorriaran's spring could yield another record-setting season.
She said she'll covet the experience at Penn Relays as she moves forward.
"To be able to run against all of these great women, the best in the world, I think it would have been a really great experience," she said.