Anthony Quinn ’17 won Randolph’s first gold medal in the ODAC Championship and was the first track and field athlete to qualify for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the 2016 season.
Last April, Anthony Quinn ’17 positioned himself at the starting block beside a lineup of mostly Division I runners for the 110-meter hurdle event at the Radford University Highlander Invitational.
When the starter’s gun fired, Quinn pushed off, determined to beat his own best time. After a somewhat slow start, Quinn dug deep after the seventh hurdle, finishing the race ahead of four Division I and one Division II competitors.
His 14.54 time earned him a spot at the national championship.
“I was in awe and just couldn’t stop smiling,” Quinn said. “It was the best feeling ever to know that someone from Randolph College, a small, Division III school of 700 students, was going to nationals in just the third year of our track program.”
Quinn’s appearance at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship was the first for any Randolph athlete, and he ultimately finished 15th at the event. Quinn’s success, along with that of other Randolph track and field student-athletes, has helped build a strong foundation for the young team, which began in 2014.
In its first season, the combined women’s and men’s team had just a handful of members and the shorthanded WildCats struggled in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) matchups. Quinn scored one of the first points for the team that season in the ODAC Championship.
Now, Quinn is on a roster of about 30 runners for the team, which is becoming a perennial contender in the conference. The women’s team is also making strides. Sprinter Diana Young ’18 won third place in the ODAC indoor 60-meter dash. She was named Randolph’s Female Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the College’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2016.
“It’s been fun for me to see the growth and to see the numbers improve,” said Bill Cooper, head coach for the women’s and men’s teams and the winner of the 2016 ODAC Indoor Track and Field Men’s Coach of the Year award. “I think that’s one of the things we’ve tried to preach since day one is that we just want to recruit athletes who want to work hard, and the rest will take care of itself.”
The national championship appearance was one of many impressive accomplishments for Quinn during the 2016 season. He routinely broke his own school records throughout the season in 110-meter hurdles, and helped Randolph win its first gold medal in the ODAC Championship, with a time of 15.07. In recognition of his stellar season, the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him to the All-South/Southeast Region Team.
Like other Division III student athletes, Quinn exemplifies the term well-rounded. He has welcomed and mentored incoming students as a Davenport Leader for two years, is a resident advisor, and works in the Office of the President. He recently became a dual-sport athlete and was a starting outside back for the men’s soccer team this fall.
A business major from California, Quinn said time management has been one of the most practical skills he has learned at Randolph.
“Coming here has really changed me as a person and who I thought I was going to be,” he said. “Our coaches here have pushed me to be not only a better athlete, but a better student and person. There’s a lot they’ve done for me that I never thought would come out of this, and I think it’s really going to help me as I progress through life.”
One of Cooper’s key coaching philosophies is to encourage his team to strive for greatness both on and off the track. “You can be the best coach in the world, but if you don’t have anybody who wants to work hard or buy into what it is you’re trying to do, you’re not going to get any better,” Cooper said. “I think we have a good group that has bought into what we ask of them.”
Despite the accolades, records, and other athletic successes of his students, Cooper will be proudest when the founding members of the team walk across The Dell in May to receive their diplomas.
“That’s why they’re here,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, most of them are not going to be professional athletes. They’re going to have a career doing something else. So for me to be able to see them graduate in four years is just as meaningful as all the records, the growth of the program, or anything else we’ve seen while I’ve been here.”