Saturday, January 9, 2010

Q&A with Spiders Standout-Tim Quinn

This is the first in a series of Q & A with Spiders team members...

Tim Quinn... shown right... (pic#1) "his look" on January 30, '10 after a long run during a 12" snow storm in Richmond... and (pic#2) on his way to earning 1st Team All-Conference honors during the '09 XC season.
Junior, Tim Quinn (Pittsford, NY) is coming off a breakthrough fall cross country season for the University of Richmond. As a long distance runner on the Spiders track and field and cross country teams he set personal bests of 30:21 in the 10K at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays in Los Angeles last spring. This fall he led the Spiders in every cross country meet, earned 1st Team All-Conference, narrowly missed All-Region honors and ran a personal best 24:20 for 8K at the Paul Short Invitational. He is also a standout student earning a spot on the All-Academic Team within the league.
We sat down to ask him a few questions about his experiences and future plans.

Question: This fall (2009) you were the top finisher in every cross country meet for the Spiders. How did you feel about the season?

Overall, I’m very happy with the season. There are still many things that I want to improve upon, but in general I made big strides from last year to this year. I had high goals for both the conference meet and the regional meet and I fell a little short of both, but now I know that those goals are realistic and I have the ability to compete with the best. As a team we competed hard and we definitely gained a lot of experience going into next fall where we expect to be one of the best teams in the NCAA.

Question: What do you feel was your best performance this fall?

Quinn: I think I had similarly good performances at the Paul Short Invitational, the Atlantic-10 meet and the NCAA Regional meet. At Paul Short, I set a new PR that was almost 30 seconds faster than my previous PR and I placed in the top 30 out of a big field, so that race gave me a lot of confidence. At the A-10 meet, the conditions were so sloppy that I wasn’t able to run my best race in terms of time or place, but I know that I dug deep in that race and I’m proud of the way I fought to get all-conference. I was also pleased with my 33rd place finish at Southeast Regional meet, which was loaded with top teams like UVA, Duke, Louisville, William and Mary and NC State as well as Liberty’s Sam Chelanga, though I’m definitely hungry for even better performances in the future.

Question: You have been successful in balancing academic and athletic success at the highest level as one of the top student-athletes at Richmond. How do you balance the two?

Quinn: I think that my running career has actually helped me balance my academic career more than anything else. With practices at 7:30 in the morning, I have to get to bed early to get my rest, which means I also have to get my work done early. I also try to communicate a lot with professors, and they’re always willing to meet with me outside of class to help with anything I might have missed while we were traveling for a meet. I guess I’m also lucky that my two majors, Political Science and French, aren’t exactly GPA-killers like some of the more rigorous science and math programs that we have here.

Question: What has been your most vivid memory to this point as part of the Spider team?

I think my favorite memory so far comes from our home track meet, the Fred Hardy Invitational, during my freshman outdoor track season. Matt Llano, Andrew Benford, Jonny Wilson and I were all competing against some good competition from VCU and a few other schools in the 3000-meter race. The four of us had also just gotten back from training together over spring break in Florida, and we worked together over the course of the race to sweep the top four spots in personal best times for all of us. Jonny and I passed a few people on the home stretch to secure the sweep, and it was a great feeling doing it as a team in front of our home fans. The next best is probably when Matt Llano qualified for Nationals at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet in 2008. He ran such and awesome race, and I was even lucky enough to accompany him on the trip to Terre Haute where he also ran great. Just being there at nationals was a great experience, and it made me determined to get back there someday as a team.

Question: Your teammates Matt Llano, Andrew Benford and Jon Wilson redshirted this cross-country season. How did that impact the team?

Quinn: The decision to redshirt Llano (29:06-10K), Benford (14:09-5K/8:51-3K steeple), and Wilson (24:27-5 miles) was done with the long-term vision of putting together the best cross-country team we can for the 2010 season. Unfortunately, we knew we were sacrificing to a degree the 2009 season in order to accomplish some pretty high goals next year. However, they were there every step of the season, encouraging and leading the team from the sidelines while doing just about every workout with us. I know that a lot of our freshmen and sophomores benefited from their absence at competitions because they were able to travel more and experience what big-time meets are like and to gain the experience that will help them enormously next year and even after we’ve graduated. It also helped me to see myself as a “front-runner” and to compete in the front pack of every race without being able to key off of Llano or Benford.

Question: Coach Taylor feels your leadership within the team this past fall was exceptional. What have you done differently to prepare for the leadership role?

I think the most important part of being a leader on the team is understanding Coach Taylor’s philosophy on training and fully embracing it. Over the last two years I’ve tried really hard to understand why we do what we do and now I’m in a position where I can help make that clear to the underclassmen who are new to the program what’s important in training. I’ve also keyed off of the leadership of my older teammates, like Jon Molz, Benford, Llano and Garrett Graham who have so much experience and have proved that they know what it takes to run fast. It’s also important to mean what you say, and to live the lifestyle of a dedicated runner, which means doing a lot of the small things like eating right, getting eight hours of sleep a night, lifting, getting treatment for injuries, etc.

Question: The depth of the Spiders distance program continues to improve with athletes that were not necessarily the top athletes within their respective states while in high school. How do you account for your improvement and the success of your team?

Quinn: That’s definitely true. In high school, I was probably one of the better runners in my section, but on paper I was hardly worth the time or effort for a Division-I coach to recruit me, and I’m so happy that I was on Coach Taylor’s radar at all. My PR for the 3200 meters in high school was 9:50, and yet by the time my first track race of my freshman year came around, I ran the equivalent of 30 seconds faster over the same distance. Later that year, I ran around 9:25 for the first 3200 meters of my 5,000 meter race at Junior Nationals. I think this improvement comes first and foremost from the incredible coaching that we get from Coach Taylor. He wants us to run fast, and he does an amazing job of making us work beyond what we believed we were capable of doing. We also have a really great group of fun guys and girls assembled here who are super-dedicated to our mission and put 100% into everything we do. Quite honestly, I never expected to be running this fast when I was in high school, and I’m blown away every day by how well the program here at Richmond has helped me to excel. What’s also amazing is how many people on the team also have experiences like mine, including seniors Benford, Llano, Graham and Wilson, and newcomers like Chris York, Jason Skipper, Conor Phelan and Alex Lochner who have already made astounding improvements.

Question: What will be your focus during the indoor and outdoor season’s?

During the next two seasons I plan to continue to focus on the longer races on the track, specifically the 3,000 meters to the 10,000 meters during the spring. I have some pretty fast times in mind to run, and I want to continue to improve my PRs so that I can come into next fall prepared to do what I need to do so that our team can accomplish some pretty amazing things. I definitely hope to qualify for the outdoor regional meet in either the 5k or the 10k with a shot at making nationals.

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