Nutley’s Quinn wins state sectional title; first Maroon Raider boy since Klatsky in 2004

The 3,200-meter run at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group III championships was down to the final few strides at River Dell High School, when Nutley High School senior Jimmy Quinn took a look around him and saw absolutely no one.

A highly competitive event like a state sectional championship and Quinn had all the daylight any runner could want.

“I was very surprised,” Quinn said. “I didn’t think this was possible.”

Quinn crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 9:49.81, a full four seconds faster than his closest competitor Bobby Oehrlein of Indian Hills.

Quinn was convinced that someone was on his tail for the entire race.

“I thought I heard someone’s spikes clicking the whole time,” Quinn said. “When I hit the finish line and looked back, I didn’t expect to see that.”

When Quinn crossed the finish line, it meant that Nutley once again had a state sectional champion in boys’ track and field. Quinn became the first Maroon Raider runner to win the state sectional since Jeff Klatsky won both the 800 and 1,600-meter runs at the North Section 1, Group III meet in 2004.

Klatsky would eventually go on to run at Boston College and had a fine career there.

For becoming the first Nutley runner to capture state sectional gold in 14 years, Quinn has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Quinn becomes the final Observer Athlete of the Week for the 2017-2018 campaign. The Observer Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be awarded in the coming weeks.

Incredibly, Quinn was able to secure the gold medal in scorching conditions in Oradell on May 26. When Quinn took to the track for his race, the temperature was a sizzling 94 degrees. Needless to say, the conditions were not conducive to good times at River Dell.

“It was horrible,” Quinn said. “I was able to put water on my face as I ran, so that helped me.”

It also helped to have a cousin alongside. Ellie McCreesh, a fellow senior at Nutley, is suffering through some leg injuries that have sidelined her from running this season. But McCreesh was lending a helping hand to her cousin during the race. McCreesh is headed off to the College of New Jersey in the fall.

“She kept handing me water when I was running,” Quinn said. “She was a huge help. I didn’t expect to go faster than 9:50 in the race. I was able to keep an honest pace and kept going.”
It was Quinn’s best performance at a state sectional championship. Quinn placed sixth in the 3,200 as a sophomore and fourth last year, so he definitely saved his best for last.

Quinn said that he was feeling the fatigue of running the 1,600-meter run in the heat on Friday. Quinn was second in that race in 4:29.17.

“I was beat up from running the mile (the 1,600),” Quinn said. “After I ran the race, I went right home and into the tub. I soaked myself when I got home.”

Still, Quinn has a state sectional gold medal and a silver in the 1,600. Not a bad weekend at all.

“I thought that I could finish in the top three at best,” Quinn said. “I had a good pace and I took advantage of it. It’s pretty awesome when I think about it. To even be mentioned with Jeff Klatsky, well, I must be doing something right.”

It’s remarkable considering that Quinn, who is headed to the University of Richmond to compete in track and field in the fall, was seriously injured during the cross country season.

Quinn developed a strain in his tibialis anterior muscle, a very rare condition where the tibia in the lower leg, which controls the dorsiflexing and inverting the foot, is compromised. It forces people to stop doing the normal daily routine like simple walking. However, it is especially dangerous when the injured man/woman is an athlete.

“For six weeks, I did nothing,” Quinn said. “I came back for one indoor meet. It was a very hard meet for me. I was definitely planning to come back, but there was no guarantee that I could.”

Quinn had to wait the six weeks, then had another MRI to see if the damage was permanent.

“If everything came back positive, then I had to stop altogether,” Quinn said.

Lucky for him, the test proved no permanent damage and Quinn was able to return to the track.

“Thank God, nothing came up,” Quinn said. “There was a chance that I was not going to run.”

Quinn worked hard to get back into running condition. He went for physical therapy three days a week at Professional Physical Therapy in Nutley to get that leg healed as quickly as possible.

“I feel great,” Quinn said. “I felt ready to go. It was a slow process coming back. I had to be patient.”

Quinn’s season came to an end last Saturday, when he finished 10th at the overall Group III championships at Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township in southern New Jersey. Although the place was not what Quinn hoped for, the time was good, crossing the finish line in 9:36.92. Quinn’s personal best in the race was 9:31, but again, the conditions last Saturday were not good for a long distance runner.

“At this point in the season, it’s all about times anyway,” Quinn said.

Quinn still feels fortunate to have won a state sectional gold.

“I swear, I thought someone was right there with me,” Quinn said. “I thought someone was coming for the last 200 meters. I thought someone was going to start charging, so I had to pick it up a little.”
And when he finally crossed the line and looked back?

“It wasn’t too hard,” Quinn said. “I’m glad I was wrong.”

Quinn leaves a legacy for other Maroon Raider distance runners to follow. For example, young teammates Sean Bernardo and Brian McCormack are left to pick up the slack in Quinn’s absence. Bernardo was 20th at the state sectional and McCormack 37th.

The Maroon Raider 4×800-meter relay team was third at the state sectional. Eli Acosta was solid in three events, finishing fourth in the long jump, seventh in the triple jump and ninth in the javelin.

Anthony Gola was solid in the sprints, finishing sixth in the 100-meter dash and 11th in the 200-meter dash. John McAloon was eighth in the javelin and Dom Raffelli was 10th in the pole vault.

Considering where Quinn was five months ago, becoming a state sectional champ is nothing short of remarkable. And to achieve the gold medal in such dominating fashion is a memory that Quinn will take with him for the rest of his life.




Nutley senior Jimmy Quinn crosses the finish line in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group III championships a good four seconds ahead of everyone else, becoming the first Maroon Raider boy runner to capture a state sectional title in 14 years. Photo by Jim Hague


Nutley senior Jimmy Quinn, headed to the University of Richmond next year. Photo by Jim Hague












Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”