Why he’s our top male athlete of the year:
The fastest man in Illinois and Big Ten track and field history was the 100-meter Big Ten champion this spring and capped his Illini career with four more All-American honors on the year (taking him to six for his career).
In his words
We asked Devin Quinn five questions about his Illinois running career and his plans for the future:
What was your first reaction to running 10.01 seconds at the NCAA championships?
Going through that moment, all I was worried about was either taking first or second place. I knew I didn’t have first place, but I was pretty confident I was second place. That’s what was really on my mind before that time went up because if I took second place I would make it into finals. Looking back at the film, it was a lot closer than I really thought it was. As soon as I saw my name go up on the board I was like, “Holy crap, I just made it into the NCAA finals in the 100.” Then I saw the time and was like, “OK, that’s pretty good.”
How do you run a record-setting race like that?
It was a really impressive race. It was a really smooth race. There were no hiccups in my run. I just remember it being hot. It was kind of relaxing. Sprinters really love the heat. I just went out there and did exactly what I’ve been practicing and executed everything to the best of my ability. This was eight years of work summed up into one race. I’ve been running a long time. To see something like that and move toward the times only the elite sprinters can do or perform is something really special.
Now that you’ve run 10.01, how do you go sub-10 seconds?
That is the ultimate question now, isn’t it? I know I can sharpen up a lot of my run. Even in that (NCAA) prelim things were a little sloppy. Very aggressive — very powerful and smooth — but I felt like my steps were a little all over the place. I feel like they could have been a little bit sharper. It’s going to be my full-time job. I’m going to be focusing on cleaning up everything and getting stronger. Where I can drop some time is my overall strength — being in the weight room and getting my work done on the track in an efficient manner.
What’s next for you?
(Left for Switzerland on Tuesday and ran in Lausanne on Friday). I’ll be running in Lucerne, which is a Diamond League meet. Lucerne will be on (July 9). I’m excited. I feel like I have an opportunity that not many people will ever have. I plan on running for at least another two years, and, hopefully, if I progress a little bit more I could make it a lifetime career, which would be a dream goal. But I’ve planned out about two more years of running track and traveling to high-end meets and performing at my best — see if financially I can make it viable. ... Otherwise, if I don’t really progress and don’t make any money, I still plan on doing about two years of running professionally and either pursue higher education or possibly collegiate coaching. Maybe just go into a full-time career in facilities management and use my degree.
What will you miss most about your time in Champaign?
The reason why I came to Champaign — came to the University of Illinois — from living 1,200 miles way in Florida was mostly the people. This campus, this town, this university has some incredibly talented and bright people, and it will continue to in the future. That is probably one thing — the people I got to meet on a daily basis and some of the conversations I got to have with people around here. It’s a lot different than where I come from. I’m also excited to meet even more people in my future journeys.
Men of repute
A look at the previous Male Athlete of the Year recipients:
YEAR ATHLETE SPORT
2018 Bren Spillane Baseball
2017 Malcolm Hill Basketball
2016 Isaiah Martinez Wrestling
2015 Isaiah Martinez Wrestling
2014 Jesse Delgado Wrestling
2013 Justin Parr Baseball
2012 Andrew Riley Track and field
2011 Mikel Leshoure Football
2010 Scott Langley Golf
2009 Paul Ruggeri Gymnastics
2008 Rashard Mendenhall Football
2007 Kevin Anderson Tennis
2006 Justin Spring Gymnastics
2005 Luther Head Basketball
2004 Brian Wilson Tennis
2003 Matt Lackey Wrestling