Track star follows path of local Olympian

Danielle Quinn says following in the footsteps of Olympic and World Championship bronze medalist and five-time NCAA champion Derek Drouin in the track and field program at the University of Indiana has been both challenging and motivational.

“There’s a little more pressure because I’m from the same hometown as Derek.” said the St. Christopher grad.

“But I am using that additional pressure to do the best I can,” she added.  “When people found out I was from Sarnia, they just automatically thought I was going to be as good as him.”

And while admittedly she has a long way to go in that department, the 19-year-old is having a solid freshman season, finishing second in three triple jump events in the indoor season and placing fourth in a pair of events in the current outdoor season.

She and her Hoosier teammates are gearing up for the Big Ten Championships on the weekend of May 16-18 at Purdue University.

In just her third season of competitive triple jump, Quinn is pushing herself to work harder because the competition at the NCAA level is much stronger than it was at the both the high school and club level in Sarnia-Lambton.

Tbe Exercise Science (Kinesiology) student, who has a grade point average of 3.5, says she has learned a lot from her new coach, Jeff Huntoon who is credited with the dramatic improvement in Derek Drouin during his time at Indiana.

“He (coach Huntoon) is a lot like Joel Skinner, my club coach in Sarnia,” she commented.  “He’s a lot of fun, but at the same time, he pushes me to reach my potential.”

That potential, she hopes, will be enough to qualify her for the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon this summer.

“I’ll need to jump just under 13 metres to qualify,” she said.

Her personal best to date this season is 12.13 metres, but she has jumped 12.39 metres in the past.

Quinn’s coach also has her dabbling in some other events this season with an eye at perhaps competing in the Hepthalon next season.

Once her collegiate season is complete, the 2013 Canadian Junior Triple Jump champion will return to Quebec City to attempt to defend her title this summer.  Last year, she won the crown with a jump of 12.33 metres.

She also plans on competing at the Canadian Track and Field Championship in Moncton, New Brunswick in late June.

– Barry Wright