Loyalty led Quincy Hall to South Carolina, track national championship

After breaking records and making history at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., Quincy Hall could have gone to any number of Division I schools to run track.

He chose South Carolina out of loyalty.

"Coach [Curtis] Frye and the coaching staff built a bond with me outside of track," Hall said. “They were the only school to recruit me out of high school when I didn’t have the grades to come to any other school. The University of South Carolina helped me become better educated and just a better person as a whole.

"They were loyal to me and I was always taught to be loyal and be good to the people who have been good to you. It was a loyalty thing."

That loyalty paid off for both Hall and South Carolina last week when the junior sprinter won the national championship in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Hall was one of two South Carolina track stars to win individual national championships, as Wadeline Jonathas won the women’s 400m. Jonathas and the women’s 4x400m relay team also won the indoor national title in November.

Wadeline Jonathas wins another national championship

South Carolina finished in the top eight in seven of the nine events it competed in at the outdoor championships, with the women’s team finishing 10th overall, the best team finish in 13 years, and the men finishing 12th, the best since 2010.

Though Hall established himself as one of the fastest 400m runners in the country this year, winning the SEC Championship in the event and setting multiple school records, it was the 400m hurdles where he pulled off his biggest feat. His time of 48.48 was a personal best and the second-fastest time in program history to give South Carolina the first national title in the men’s event since 2010.

Though he got off to a slow start in the event and trailed two runners heading to the final hurdle, Hall kicked it into another gear to win the title.

"It was one of my worst races, that’s what was going through my head," Hall said Monday at South Carolina’s new indoor track facility. "I wanted to run a faster time, but everything worked out how it was supposed to."

The national championship capped a remarkable season for the junior from Kansas City. In his first year at South Carolina, he won two SEC championships, set three school records and is a four-time first-team All-American. He also is a finalist for The Bowerman, presented annually to the top athlete in college track & field.

After watching Hall win event after event in 2018-19, Frye had no doubt his prize junior-college transfer could win the national title in the 400m hurdles.

"Never did I doubt that Quincy was going to win the intermediate hurdles," Frye said. "Not even in the straightway when they were almost a hurdle up on him. He’s just faster and his heart is bigger."

After winning two Missouri state championships in high school, Hall did not have the grades to attend a Division I school. South Carolina recruited him anyway and helped him land at the College of the Sequoias, where he continued to win championships and break records. He won every event he competed in in the 400m and 400m hurdles in 2018 and won the 400m hurdles at the 2017 Pan American U20 championships with a record time of 49.02.

After his success in junior college, Frye was nervous about losing Hall to another school. He had placed athletes at the College of the Sequoias before and lost them to Oregon or other elite Division I programs.

"I was a little nervous about putting him out there because I knew the big dogs would come," Frye said. "The first year he made the Pan American team, the big dogs came but his mother said because we believed in him … Quincy is going to South Carolina.

"I thought that was pretty good, then someone got his transcripts and had him visit everybody in the country and that scared me to death. But his mother stayed on it. She said, 'you believe in Quincy, we believe in you.' She came on her visit and she didn’t visit anybody but South Carolina. That made me feel good, and here he is. She stuck to her word and Quincy stuck to his word and Quincy loves us and he’s a Gamecock."

Hall credits his junior-college experience for preparing him to become one of the top sprinters in the nation at South Carolina.

"Junior college was a great blessing to me," he said. "It taught me a lot, how to fend for myself and take care of my responsibility. Just be here at the University of South Carolina and taking care of me and making my life easier for me, getting faster and getting stronger and just bettering my career."

Hall now has his eye on the 2020 Olympics and Frye has no doubt he will make it. He will not only make it, he said, but shine again.

"Quincy Hall will be an Olympian," he said. "I think he can be the world record-holder. That record is 46.67 and people believe that will never be broken, but if he keeps with his commitment and follows through with the plan, then Quincy Hall is going to be an Olympian but my dream is that he is the world record-holder in an event no one believes can be broken."