This year, Freeport’s Christian Quinn may be facing his toughest opponent yet – himself. With no state championships to look forward to, the defending indoor titleholder in the long jump will be put up to a different kind of challenge, besting his best.
Yes, the last 10 months have had all kind of emotions, and few of them were good. There was the disappointment of spring season being canceled, the frustration of the indoor championships eliminated, and the hopelessness surrounding the fall season, when Quinn plays football, put on hold.
But Quinn’s resolve never was defeated. Sure, it may have wavered for a moment or two – human nature can only take so much. But like the senior is so apt at doing, he was able to jump over any feelings of loss and focus on a new goal.
"You can definitely always set goals no matter the situation," said Quinn, who moved to Long Island from Massachusetts before last school year and won the state long jump championship in his first New York-based season. "I don’t know what the meets hold or how it’s going to get done, but I know I can become a better athlete through working – better than I was last year. That’s the main goal, improve yourself. Even if you can’t show it against others, improve yourself and more will come."
Quinn jumped a personal-best 23 feet, 5 inches to win the long jump at the Long Island Elite Meet last February. A week later, he flew 22-11 to win the state indoor championship. He said he wants to get to 24 feet this season, something that will have to happen outdoors and something that, he believes, will help a lot with the college recruiting process. He may even compete unattached – that is, independent of Freeport High School - at some indoor meets at The Armory, he said.
"Just to get a mark and see my improvement, where I’m at, and what I need to do to improve," he said of potential unattached indoor meets.
As for college, Quinn said he hasn’t committed anywhere and still is figuring out where he wants to go and what division he wants to compete in.
"It’s more where I feel I best fit," he said. "They’re some [Division] I schools, some good [Division] II. Wherever I feel most comfortable or wherever I help the team the most or the quickest. I’m not really sure. I’m not really set on DI or DII, it’s just whatever’s best for me."
He has decided, however, that competing on the track team is a must. Quinn, who also plays football, would ideally like to compete in both sports in college, but said he would forego football if necessary. He will play football for Freeport this March, if the state permits the season to happen.
"It’s definitely a lot, but it’s my senior year, so I just want to make the most of it. I’m not going to miss a season," Quinn said. "I’m going to make it work."
This winter, in addition to long jumping, Quinn said he intends to mix in work in the triple jump.
"I think I’ll handle it very well," he said. "It’s a little tough, a little different from long jump. I think I’ll be OK."
Quinn did not triple jump in competition last year, but Freeport coach Charles Gilreath said he thinks he has enough raw talent to jump 46 feet right away. For perspective, last year’s Nassau County Class A champion jumped 45 feet.
"When you see him run, he’s very deceptive," Gilreath said. "You don’t really think he’s that fast. But when you put the clock on him, he is really fast, and he’s able to carry a lot of that speed with the spring that he has in his legs. That’s why I think he’s a really good long jumper. He has that combination of speed, flexibility, and power in his legs."
Quinn hopes all of that will lead to improvement – even if it comes without a state title or much competition in the cold temperatures. Christian Quinn is enough competition for Christian Quinn.
Elsewhere, defending county champions will have to muster up their own bits of motivation without postseason titles to defend. Farmingdale won Class A last year and returns Andre Leslie and Anthony Diaz. Leslie, who is from Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to Farmingdale in 2019, is the defending state public school champion in the 55 meters. Diaz won the 3,200 meters at the Nassau Class A Championships.
After winning Nassau Class B, Manhasset returns Daniel O’Neill, who emerged a champion in a tight 3,200 race and a razor-thin 1,600 at the county championships. Valley Stream North continued its county dominance last year, this time by winning the newly introduced Class C. Ryan John, who is the defending champion in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump, returns.
In Suffolk, Huntington won the large school championship. It returns three of the four members of its state championship 4 x 400 meter relay team – Tyriek Mays-McKoy, C.J. Kiviat, and Anthony Joseph. Mount Sinai won the small school championship. It returns George Franks. His personal best in the 300 meters in 35.77 seconds, according to milesplit.com.