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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Athlete of the Week

    Junior Shevell Quinley’s score of 4,125 points for the UA track and field team in the women’s pentathlon at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational this weekend automatically qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Quinley also beat her own school record of 3,913 points, giving her the best score in the nation for about three hours before it was topped. The Arizona Daily Wildcat caught up with Shevell to discuss her performance, her competition rituals and the soundtrack of her life.

    Wildcat: What was your goal heading into the Husker Invitational last weekend?

    Quinley: Actually there were two goals. One was to get a nationally leading mark and to get the automatic mark, which was 4,050. They only take 16 (athletes) in each event to nationals for the indoor championships and I’ve never made it to a national meet before so that was a big thing.

    W: What did you have to do in preparation to accomplish that goal?

    Q: Well my personal best before this weekend was about 150 points below the automatic score, so I knew it would take a huge personal record on my part. Based on my fall training, I had the utmost confidence that I would be able to surpass the automatic mark. So the goal was to go there and take each event at a time. If I didn’t set new personal bests then I was just going to cross my fingers and hope all the scores added up.

    W: You did have the best national score for about three hours before Jacquelyn Johnson from ASU beat it. How does that fit into the rivalry when you end up competing against each other?

    Q: I knew that Jackie was competing on the same day, so I knew that my glory as a national leader would probably only last about a day. But that’s okay because I’m still second in the country. She is a six-time national champion so it was kind of expected. She is my competition in my event and she is a Sun Devil, so we have had a rivalry since my freshman year. Every year she’s given me a pretty big beating, but each year the gap between us closes.

    W: So is this going to be your year to take her down?

    Q: (Laughing) I’m not going to go and say that. It’s going to be the year with the biggest competition between us yet. But it’s going to be a battle and I’m in the hunt of being a national champion.

    W: Going into the last event (the 800-meter run), what was going through your mind with the slim lead you had?

    Q: My coach (Sheldon Blockburger) beat me to the ground in fall training in the 800 and I knew it would be a guts race. You know you’re tired and you’re sore and it’s the last event and it’s all guts until the end. But I knew I had to run a smart race for my fitness level. I still could have shaved off an extra two seconds but it was a tremendous race and it was a huge indoor personal record for me.

    W: Now that you have the automatic bid, do you still take things from competition to competition or is it all about nationals?

    Q: It’s all about nationals now. The meets up to nationals will just be practice and the training is going to intensify. It’s going to take a big score and it’s going to come down to the 800 at nationals as far as getting a top spot on
    the podium.

    W: How have your coaches helped you during your time at the UA?

    Q: Well Coach (Fred) Harvey really believed in me from the day I came out during recruiting. He invests a lot into his athletes and he invested a lot into me. He has instilled self-confidence in myself and that’s really what’s helped me become the athlete that I am. Coach Sheldon really is just showing me to do what he knows best. He is very straightforward and always remind me that the less I complain and the more I do, the better athlete I’ll become.

    W: Do you have any pre-event rituals or situations that you do?

    Q: Before each event I have a tape mark that I write what my goal is so that every time I step up to perform I can see what I’m shooting for. And every night before a multi-event I always eat chicken pasta and nothing else and then I pray and read a verse.

    W: What about during the race?

    Q: Well I dedicate my track and my talents all back to God. In between my events, I always say a prayer, especially before the 800. During the race, I spell out G-O-D for each of the three laps. Because when I’m getting tired, I just have to spell it out to keep me going.

    W: If you could have one artist write the soundtrack for your life, who would it be?

    Q: I would say Mary J. Blige because I would say a lot of her tracks are already related to my life. They’re about overcoming adversity and that’s what I’ve been used to my whole life. I feel a special connection with Mary J. because people told me that I would never amount to anything and people didn’t believe in my talent. She’s like my long lost sister, or something.

    W: So if you could meet any celebrity I assume it would be her as well?

    Q: Yeah, it would be Mary J. Blige or Keyshia Cole since they have the soundtracks of my life. I listen to them all the time.

    W: If this was your last day on earth, how would you spend it?

    Q: I’d wound up on my knees praying and thanking God for the life he’s given me and tell him I can’t wait to meet him at the
    pearly gates.

    – interview by Jeremy Hawkes

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