Post and Courier
August 28, 2014

Fort Dorchester's Jasmine Quinn, Porter-Gaud's Brent Demarest All-Lowcountry athletes of year

Posted: 06/21/2014 05:13 p.m.


By Jeff Hartsell

Jasmine Quinn and Brent Demarest just graduated from high school, but each of the Lowcountry's running phenoms already have moved on to the next phases of their promising careers.

Demarest, the highly decorated runner/swimmer/triathlete from Porter-Gaud, spent the last few weeks at the USA Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as part of USA Triathlon's Junior Elite World Championship Team. This weekend, Demarest will compete in the USA Triathlon World Team qualifier in Monroe, Wash.

In the fall, he will report to the University of Virginia, where he will run cross country and distance races for the Cavaliers.

Quinn, the eight-time state champion from Fort Dorchester High School, flew Thursday to Seattle, where she will compete this weekend in the Brooks PR Invitational, which brings together the top high school runners in the nation. In the fall, Quinn will report to the University of Kentucky, where she will run track for the Wildcats.

These two barely have time to pause for their awards as The Post and Courier's All-Lowcountry athletes of the year.

For Quinn, a dazzling high school career in which she won eight gold medals at the Class AAAA state track meet in the last two years - twice sweeping the 100 and 200-meter dashes, the 100 hurdles and the long jump - was a way to establish her own identity in a family full of intimidating athletes.

Jasmine's brother Robert Quinn was a star football player at Fort Dorchester and at North Carolina, and was an All-Pro defensive end for the St. Louis Rams last season. Brother Miguel was a standout sprinter at Fort Dorchester and now runs for Winston-Salem State. Father James was an All-American hurdler at Baptist College (now Charleston Southern).

"I'd rather be called Jasmine Quinn than 'Robert Quinn's sister,'" Jasmine tweeted last month after setting two state records at the High School League championships.

"I was the first one (of the Quinn kids) to get into sports," said Jasmine, who began competing in gymnastics at age 3. "So in a way, they all followed after me."

Jasmine's raw athletic ability was demonstrated in 2012 when she did the standing broad jump as part of her rehab for a hip flexor injury. She jumped an astounding 10 feet - nearly matching the 10 feet, 5 inches that her brother Robert jumped at the NFL Combine in 2011.

With the aid of her father, an assistant track coach at Fort Dorchester, Quinn has honed that ability to a sharp edge. At the state meet in May, her goal was to set state records in all four of her events. She came close, setting new marks in the long jump (20 feet, 2-1/4 inches) and the 100 hurdles (13.54 seconds).

"It was good," she said of her performance, "but it could have been better."

Quinn's performance this year was just one of many standout showings by Lowcountry girls in 2014.

Burke's Raven Saunders set national records in the indoor and outdoor shot put, and will pursue her Olympic dreams at Southern Illinois. Bishop England's Michelle Boykin played on teams that won state titles in basketball and track and field, and the Bishops' Mary Harriet Moore did the same thing in basketball and volleyball. James Island won the girls' Class AAA state title in track behind standout performances from Makyla Stanley, Hailey Sweatman and Emma Dupree, and the Wando and Academic Magnet girls soccer teams claimed state titles. Basketball also featured major college signees in Northwood Academy's Amber Campbell (Wake Forest) and West Ashley's Dekeiya Cohen (Baylor).

Porter-Gaud's Demarest, meanwhile, is one of the few Lowcountry athletes who can match gold medals with Jasmine Quinn. He won 18 state titles over his career, including seven S.C. Independent School championships in track, four in cross-country and seven in swimming. His time of 9:04 in the 3,200 is the third-fastest in state history among public or private school runners.

Demarest, who also was the All-Lowcountry boys track and cross country athlete of the year, chose Virginia over Dartmouth, Furman and North Carolina.

"When I received offers from other schools, so many people I encountered asked why UNC, why Furman, why Dartmouth," he said. "But never did anyone ask, why UVa? I think that is so telling because it's obvious that the academic prestige and athletic reputation speak volumes for UVa.

"I also love the size of the school and of course it's stellar academics, but I was particularly drawn to the strength of its athletic program. I felt an immediate connection with the team, coaching staff and the athletic philosophy of the running program. With that type of running environment, I feel that I and especially my team can achieve great things."