By Chris Parker (OzarksSportsZone.com)
Quinlan Moll, a 2014 graduate of Kickapoo, has qualified for the United States Olympic Trials in the marathon after running a 2:18.50 on Saturday in the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.
The “B” Standard for qualification to the Olympic Trials is 2:19:00.
“I really wanted to get the standard. That was one of my big goals going in,” Moll said. “I didn’t know what to expect because I had never run a marathon before. I knew I was in good shape coming off track season, but it is a marathon so you never know what to expect. It is such a long distance that pretty much anything can happen during it.”
Moll competed at UMKC the past five years and finished up his eligibility this spring. UMKC distance coach Brett Guemmer continued to advise Moll through his marathon training.
“He (Coach Guemmer) advised me to take it out slow the first couple miles. It is 5:18 (per mile) average to get under 2:19. He told me not to go out at that, but to start out at 5:30 or 5:25 the first few miles and see how it felt. I was right around low 5:20’s for the first few miles, and the plan was to cut down from there. I was feeling good early on, but it is a long race,” Moll said. “Around mile nine I started dropping closer to 5:18’s to 5:15’s. I wasn’t having any trouble clicking them off, so I (decided) to keep going at that (pace) for a while.”
The steady pace kept Moll feeling good through the half, but his half marathon time of 69:48 was not going to get him to the standard, so he had to pick up the pace.
“I saw I came through the half (marathon) at 69:48, so I knew that I would have to pick it up and start pushing a little more,” Moll said. “Once I started getting later in the race and I still had a little left in my legs, I figured I still had a shot so I just had to keep at it.”
Moll dropped his average mile pace to 5:15 from the half marathon to the 20-mile mark to get closer to where he needed to be to hit the standard.
Going into the event, Moll had never raced longer than a 10-kilometer race or done a training run longer than 20 miles.
“I got to the 20-mile mark and (thought) this is my normal race distance left,” Moll said. “At that point my legs were getting a little heavy, but I was still feeling good enough to where I could convince myself that I had come 20 miles, 6.2 miles isn’t that much further to go. It is just really a mental thing. That was the hardest thing was trying to convince myself I had less distance left than I did.”
After 26 miles, Moll still was in position to hit the standard to qualify for the trials, but it was going to be close.
“I was checking my watch the entire time. Towards the end of the race there are a bunch of curves you have to go around. I felt like my legs weren’t going to give out or anything, so I knew if I could push a little harder that last mile that I could get there. I kept looking at my watch and would pick it up a little bit. Coming down the homestretch, I saw the clock, saw my watch and saw where the finish line was and knew it was going to be close. Once I got toward the homestretch I knew I had it. That was a really good feeling,” Moll said. “I was just grinning across the line. I think I gave a little fist bump too because some of the guys in front of me were celebrating because they knew they were under the standard too.”
The Kickapoo alumus will now have the chance to compete with some of the best distance runners in the United States at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29, 2020.
“It is pretty crazy. I have run in a couple of big races in college, but nothing like (the trials). It will be really cool lining up against all of those guys. Everyone in the field is competitive. They have all run under the standard and a lot of them have run well under the standard. Being able to line up against guys that you read about all the time will be something special,” Moll said.
A host of people have helped Moll go from a very good distance runner in high school to an elite marathoner.
“Coach Brett Guemmer has been great throughout all of college and during this marathon training period. My high school coach Jeremy Goddard is the one who got me started on running and was pretty instrumental in my training and concepts of running throughout my time in high school,” Moll said. “I have a million teammates at Kickapoo and UMKC that were all great. Ian Frazier, Griffin Humphries, Nathan Keown and Jason Fambrough. All those guys were a huge help. It makes it much easier training and working hard when you have people to train with and have fun with. It is tough getting done with your eligibility. You are off on your own. You don’t have a team anymore, but when you have guys you can run with and fun with, it makes putting in the work and training a lot easier. I also have to thank my parents and family. They have been supportive through everything.”
UMKC is also where Nixa’s Courtney Frerichs started her college career on her way to becoming one of the world’s best steeplechasers.
“She (Frerichs) was a senior at UMKC when I was a freshman, so I ran with her for one year before she went to New Mexico. I also trained for a couple years with her husband Griffin Humphreys,” Moll said. “Coming out of high school she didn’t have a lot of credentials. She didn’t really get a lot recruiting attention coming out of high school, so I can kind of relate to that. Not a whole lot of schools were looking at me. She went on to excel in college and do big things at the pro level. It gives you hope that is doesn’t really matter too much where you started; if you are willing to put in the work and go after it you can definitely exceed the expectations that have been set for you.”
Moll finished his cross country career at Kickapoo by running a 16:10.93 to finish 10th place overall at the Class 4 MSHSAA State Cross Country meet in 2013. On Saturday, he held a 16:28 five-kilometer pace for 26.2 miles, or roughly eight and a half consecutive 5k’s.
That isn’t a leap Moll even dreamed was possible coming out of high school.
“In high school if you would have told me I could do that, I am not sure I would have thought it was possible. As you progress throughout the years your expectations and the way you look at running slowly shifts. It hasn’t been one big jump after the other. It has been a slow progression getting a little bit better every year to the point where doing something like I did yesterday seems much more realistic,” Moll said. “In high school you see all the times people are running in college and think it is crazy. Then you get to college and see the times the pros are running and that is crazy. The way you look at running and your view of reality is constantly shifting and changing as you train and get better. It is definitely a big jump but it is gradual over time.”
Moll has finished up his eligibility at UMKC, but still has one year left in law school. He will continue to train in Kansas City while working full time for a law firm as he sets his sights on the Olympic Trials in Atlanta at the end of next February.