Ryan Parry, Staff Writer
Sophomore Evan Quinones beat his previously held school record for the 1,500 meter run on April 2 at the Pepsi Florida Relays held at the Percy Beard Tack at the University of Florida.
While Quinones finished 30th overall in the race, he was the only Division II runner competing against the predominantly Division I competition.
Before transferring to Florida Southern College to run both track and cross country for the Mocs, Quinones ran track at SUNY Cobleskill in Cobleskill, N.Y. There, Quinones won a Division III national championship title in the 800 meter race.
An All American honors runner in high school, Quinones had proven his skills both on the track and on the trail early on. However, his career has fully blossomed as a Moccasin where he is quickly becoming one of top, and most clutch, performers on Florida Southern’s track team.
Quinones is currently ranked fifth in the nation in Division II for the 1,500 meter race.
Since the start of the season, Quinones has set two school records; his 3:50.03 time in the 1,500 meter run at UF and 2:03.78 in the 800 at the Embry-Riddle Last Chance meet held Feb. 20.
Quinones posted two NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 1,500. His first provisional qualifier was at the University of North Florida’s Spring Break Invitational on March 26 were Quinones ran a 3:51.25 in the 1,500. That time held the school record until his latest performance in the UF meet where he posted his second provisional qualifying time in the same event.
With his recent performances, Quinones is overall feeling optimistic regarding his chances of making nationals at the end of this season.
“I’m feeling pretty confident right now. I know I could’ve done better in my last race and feel that there room for improvement and I can knock down the 2 seconds I need to have qualify for nationals,” Quinones said.
One of the things Quinones thinks he can improve on the most is the kick at the end of the race. He feels that is the difference between his time being a NCAA provisional time versus an automatic bid to nationals.
Quinones is admittedly superstitious when it comes to his pre-race routine. The day before a race, instead of running his usual ten miles, he will only run four. He swaps the additional six miles for strides, short sprints to warm up his legs, on these days.
Outside of running, Quinones also visits Olive Garden the day before big races as part of his pre-race ritual.
When it comes to race day, Quinones makes sure he gets a full night’s rest and stays well hydrated throughout the morning. If his race is later in the day, he will do more strides to avoid stiffness throughout his body as a response to inactivity prior to hitting the blocks.
With an hour or two to spare before the race, Quinones begins his process of getting into the zone. In order for Quinones to get into the zone, he clears his mind and listens to fast pace music like rap. He then begins to visualize the race in his mind and plan how he will win it.
“When I’m in the zone, it’s this feeling that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to,” Quinones said.
Quinones’ sophomore standing leaves him with two more years of eligibility in NCAA competition. This enables him to run for two more years with both the track and cross country teams in hopes of breaking more records and qualifying for nationals again in the future.
Quinones’ next races opportunities to qualify for nationals are the Sunshine State Invitational on April 16 and the UNF Twilight meet on May 4th.