By Kary McCafferty, UNH Athletic Media & Public Relations
DURHAM, N.H. - Senior Camille Quarles of the University of New Hampshire women's track & field team casually sits back in the bleachers donning sweats and sneakers. She points out two white markers on the UNH outdoor track, overlooking a place she has called home the last four years, as she tries to explain how to perform her two events. A calm look then spreads across her face on what may be the first warm day in Durham this year.
Quarles is a long jump and triple jump champion at New Hampshire, but the road to achieving that title was not easily accomplished. As the Wildcats prepare to open the home outdoor season this weekend in a quad-meet against Maine, Holy Cross and Northeastern, Quarles looks to cap off a standout career that has featured an uncertain path on the road to success.
"I've been running track since my freshman year of high school," said Quarles, who grew up in Derry, N.H. "But I started out on pole vault and wasn't very good at it."
Her high school coach Ed Vaitones then convinced her to try the long and triple jumps instead, a decision that seems to have worked out for Quarles, who went on to break the state record in the triple jump with a distance of 40 feet.
Despite her early high school success, Quarles has only continued to develop throughout her collegiate career at UNH, much to the delight of head coach Casey Carroll.
"Her consistency has probably developed the most," said Carroll, who is now in his 13th season at the helm of the program. "She was pretty highly recruited, but what has made her more successful is she's now a consistent 40-foot jumper."
Before this past indoor season, Quarles was landing in the high 30s, but on Feb. 11 at the Boston University Invitational, she broke the UNH school record in the triple jump with a winning leap of 39 feet, 11.25 inches.
"She's certainly a leader by example," said Carroll, who feels that Quarles will be a candidate for this year's NCAA championships. "She is definitely a candidate to make the top 48."
Before joining any level of track, however, Quarles performed as a gymnast for 12 years, but decided to take up both track & field and cheerleading in an attempt to follow in the footsteps of her older sister, Kiah, who graduated from New Hampshire in 2008 and was also a track & field standout during her tenure in Durham.
"I still wanted to participate in some sports. I did those mostly because my sister did both," said Quarles, who does not necessarily believe that her sister was the main factor in choosing to enroll at UNH. She also attended a recruiting visit at Northeastern but ultimately chose New Hampshire, claiming that she just liked the fit.
Despite the decision to come to Durham, Quarles does not feel that she had to work much harder to prove herself when she first joined the team as the younger sister of an already established member.
"Kiah was a hurdler," said Quarles, easily differentiating between their two events and also believes that her strong incoming class played a factor in the smooth transition. "My class is really talented. We were all on the same page and worked really hard."
Nevertheless, Quarles' dedication to track & field has remained a constant throughout her collegiate career and has her practicing 12-14 hours a week.
"I'm here every day," said Quarles. "When I was a freshman that was the hardest transition. You really have to motivate yourself to get work done early."
Quarles has definitely proven her own during her time at UNH and feels that all the hard work of both her and her teammates will pay off and hopefully cap off a successful career with a strong senior campaign.