She was born in McPherson, but her legacy is in Moundridge.
MOUNDRIDGE—Wildcat's top sprinter Jamya O'Quinn is in her senior year at Moundridge High School. Her goals not only include returning to the track and field state tournament for the fourth time in a row, but she's looking to break the state record before she graduates.
O'Quinn was born in McPherson and brought a legacy to Moundridge. She was active in different sports at a young age before her parents convinced her to go for track. It was love at first sight. The apple didn't fall from the tree either. O'Quinn's mother, LaNita Terry, now LaNita Schmidt, was a track star in both McPherson High School and McPherson College. She competed in the 400, 4x400 and 4x100 at the championship level. O'Quinn, the second oldest of seven siblings, has been highly influenced by her mother and now she is following in her footsteps as a sprinter.
"I looked up to her a lot. I carried on the tradition and brought it to Moundridge," O'Quinn said.
When she moved to Moundridge, she put most of her time training and competing in local meets. Her mom would train her and send her to camps, indoor and outdoor facilities at colleges such as Kansas University and the University of Arkansas. She also qualified to compete in the KU Relays Meet Hub over the weekend.
O'Quinn already broke school records in the 100 and 200 as a Lady Wildcat. If she were to pick a favorite event, it's a safe bet that she enjoys the 200 the most.
"I always liked the 100 and the 4x1s, but I train a lot at the 200 just to get better at it, and I actually broke the record in the 200 before I did any other races," O'Quinn said. "I kind of like it a lot more now, and I know how to run it. I broke it down strategically, and I know that one the most. I know that I can do it every time I run it."
Outside of the track, O'Quinn keeps herself busy. If she's not practicing, she's at work in the flea market or the daycare center in Moundridge, while simultaneously holding a 4.0 GPA in class. She's also a basketball cheerleader. She can be found courtside rooting for her Wildcats; especially her boyfriend, basketball star Dillon Vogts.
"In the school year, it was kind of rough because I go to school, and then I go to practice, leave practice and then I hurry over to work, and I work until the night," O'Quinn said. "I still do that now, but in the summertime, it's usually like a morning practice, and then I go to work. Then I get off and go to practice. Sometimes I would have meets in the middle of the week, so I get off work and go to a meet. It's hectic at times."
O'Quinn will continue her track career. She signed her offer letter last December to go to Hutchinson Community College. When she enrolls, she plans on pursuing a nursing degree, again following in her mother's footsteps.
"It wasn't my first option. I really wanted to do physical therapy and stuff like that, but I didn't want to take the physics class in college," O'Quinn said. "My mom did nursing, and she kind of balanced nursing and track, so I figured that I could do that too."
Eventually, O'Quinn wants to settle down and focus on her long-term career, but remains open to being a runner on the side. She would not shy away if Division-I schools look to recruit her as sprinter, but that's not a priority for her.
"I didn't want to go college after Hutch. I want to finish up my nursing degree there, but I always wanted to keep running," O'Quinn explained. "Like unattached and continue doing open meets in the summer in the winter, but as far as schools I'm not sure, yet."
After the KU Relays this weekend, the next meet for Moundridge will be at home on Tuesday, April 23 at 4:30 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports