When the mood strikes, Ian McQuate runs for the hills. One of his favorite places to train is Saddle Road.
But life for the Waiakea graduate is about to get much flatter. He’ll leave in early August for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a scholarship at Nova Southeastern University.
“It’s really far away,” McQuate said of his one trip to visit the school.
But he’s been more than capable of covering large amounts of ground ever since an injury as a freshman steered him away from the basketball court and toward his current path. McQuate snagged the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross county title as a senior after claiming double gold at the BIIF track and field finals as a junior.
He chose Nova Southeastern over a handful of other offers because he’ll have a chance to participate in both sports — and study them as well.
Running is a science for McQuate, and he wants to know more.
“I want to learn all there is for me to know about exercise and the science behind it so that I will really know what to do and why when it comes to training to improve,” McQuate said. “Then find a career involved in exercise science. Such as possibly getting involved in studies which attempt to even further understand the connection between exercise and performance.”
The Sharks compete in Division II, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their cross country schedule. The fall lineup includes invitationals at South Florida, the University of Florida and Florida State, and McQuate is eagerly anticipating those trips.
“One of the major factors in my college search was making sure that I would be able to compete with the best,” McQuate said. “Some might say NSU has the facilities of a Division I school.”
Sunrise Athletics coach MJ Tominaga called McQuate the consummate student-athlete.
A 4.0 student at Waiakea, he earned a dean’s and presidential scholarship in addition to an athletic grant for a financial aid package that will cover his full tuition and contribute toward his room and board.
“Very disciplined and respectful with a good work ethic,” said Tominaga, who’s coached McQuate both at her club and in high school. “He’s constantly working to refine himself, and that’s why I think he’ll be successful at the next level.”
McQuate is spurred by competition. His personal-record (16 minutes, 18 seconds) on the 3-mile BIIF cross country course came at Keaau High while he was chasing someone ahead of him on a bike.
But more than anything, he’s fueled by the endless pursuit of trying to improve his times.
“The toughest race is against the clock,” he said.
His senior season in cross country went off without a hitch. But he came away disappointed at the BIIF track and field championships in May, finishing second in the 1,500 and third in the 3,000.
A week later at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships, he rebounded and set a PR in the 1,500 (4:07.49) and finished third.
“Sure, it was nice being undefeated in BIIF cross country, but to me, winning is second to improvement and pushing toward goals,” he said. “I feel I was more successful in track. Even though I may have had a rough end (at BIIFs), I was still able to push through at states.”
McQuate said he has at least one more run up Saddle Road planned before he leaves.
He may not know how much he can cut his times in South Florida, but he’ll be studying up on the case.
“I’ll chase faster times until I can know what the fastest I can be truly is,” he said. “Eventually, I want to help others chase their dreams in the way I plan to.”