Every sport has its own rhythm when it comes to recruiting. College programs in some sports start offering scholarships and getting verbal commitments from high schoolers as early as ninth or 10th grade. In track and field, the beat really picks up during junior year in the outdoor season.
Freeport’s Christian Quinn was hoping to be front and center for that crescendo.
Quinn, a junior long jump specialist, made his first appearance on the national scene during the indoor season. During the winter, he hit his personal best of 23 feet, 5 inches – the 13th best distance in the nation in the 2019-20 season – and also captured the New York State championship in the event. Though the national championships were canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, a handful of power conference programs made initial overtures.
A strong outdoor season likely would turn him into a top recruit nationally. However, the school closings and postponement of the spring sports seasons on Long Island have thrust that possibility into limbo.
“He went 23-5 this season and most of his jumps came in competition because we don’t have facilities to practice jumps indoors,” Freeport coach Charles Gilreath said. “He would improve on that number outdoors because he can train now. If he can go 24-to-25 feet, he can write his ticket to almost any top college program in the country.”
“I have been looking forward to the recruiting that might come from the coming season,” Quinn said. “After the indoor [season], I had a few colleges hit me up, had me fill out questionnaires and there was some small talk between us. They can’t do that now [because of NCAA rules], but I want to see what it looks like if I can meet my goals for the outdoor season.”
The Red Devils’ Jaden Mason, a junior who competes in the 55-, 100- and 200-meter dashes, faces similar circumstances. After transferring from West Hempstead to Freeport, he hoped that competing at the upper level and against better competition might bring out his best and put him in a position to get a scholarship offer from a major Division I program.
“A scholarship is going to be important to me and this is when things usually happen in track and field,” he said. “I am hoping to get the kind of school I want to go to – the ACC or SEC – to see me. This season is when I can make an impression.”
Quinn also plays cornerback and wideout on Freeport’s Long Island Class A champion football team. A preference for one sport over the other hasn’t emerged, but that could turn out to be another shot at earning a scholarship. A sizeable percentage of football recruits commit during their senior year.
In the meantime, Quinn will walk the mile to Freeport, where the outdoor track is still open, to train. Given the recent edicts from Albany, he sees himself working out on a treadmill at home more often. He really wants the chance to surpass 24 feet in the long jump, he said, “because 24 is a great number for [college] coaches.”
“It’s not just me. Everyone on our team is working out,” Quinn said. “Whenever we can play our season, we want to be just as good as if we’d been practicing as a team all this time.”