By Gabriela Carroll
School closings devastated high school seniors, who lost out on final moments with their friends, and high school tentpoles like prom and graduation. Senior athletes missed out on what is, for many, their final time playing their sport, and their last opportunities at championships and the postseason.
Hampton Bays senior Quinn Smith falls into that latter category. After winning the indoor shot put state championship in early March and coming in second in the outdoor discus state championship in 2019, Smith was well-positioned to make a run at the outdoor discus and shot put state — and even national — championships before his final season came to a premature end.
“It’s a bummer,” Smith said. “All the athletes work so hard, including myself, and I was really looking forward to breaking our high school discus record. It’s a bummer I won’t have a chance to.”
Smith said everything was up in the air, due to the sudden school closings — after leaving that last Friday’s practice. The team hasn’t had any wrap up meetings or moments to honor the seniors, but the season was only officially canceled a week or two ago, so Smith said that might happen in the future.
Smith is the only state champion in the history of the Hampton Bays track and field program, and will be attending the University at Buffalo next year, where he plans to continue to compete in track and field.
Smith could have had one of the greatest seasons any Hampton Bays athlete has ever had, according to his coach, Virgil Romer. Romer said he’s disappointed Smith won’t get an opportunity to have that season and achieve the goals he set out for himself, to become a double state champion in both discus and shot put.
Romer said Smith is one of the best athletes to come out of Hampton Bays — ever. Though some may not see Smith, who is 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, as a traditional athlete, Romer said he has the strength, speed, and agility, just in different ways, which allowed him to excel in his sport.
Because of the equipment involved in discus and shotput, Smith said that while he has been training and staying in shape, practicing his specific sport is challenging without his school’s resources, and that the change in routine was initially disorienting.
A college level discus is two kilograms, as compared to the 1.6 kilogram high school discus, and the college shot put is a whopping 4 pounds heavier at 16 pounds. Smith has been training every few days with this equipment at the Hampton Bays track, Romer said, and Smith added that he has been lifting weights and trying to build strength.
“He’s very self-motivated,” Romer said. “His first year of track, he had no coach. He was self-coached, and he still did pretty well. He knows how to work, and he’ll do whatever needs to be done, no questions asked. He’s just one of those kids that can go about things on his own. You can trust him.”
The Baymen only had one week of outdoor practice before the school’s sudden closure. Discus isn’t competed during the indoor track season, unlike the shot put, so Smith won’t have another opportunity to compete in the discus until next spring, but Smith said he did gain some closure because of his winter shot put state championship.
Smith said he’s grateful this isn’t the end of his athletic career, and he will use this experience as motivation to not take his time for granted and to make the most of his college years. And as the first state champion in the Hampton Bays track program, Smith is leaving behind a strong legacy, according to Romer.
“He gives all the kids someone to look up to,” Romer said. “Many of them right now know him personally, maybe a ninth- or 10th-grader or younger kids in the community, and people will see his picture later and see he was a state champion in track and think that it’s pretty awesome or something they want to do.”