Five years after capturing the NCAA indoor pole vault title, Rory Quiller returned to Binghamton University for his induction into the Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 class.
But earning the title of NCAA champion was just the satin bow on Quiller’s five-year (2003-8) career as a Bearcat; he was also a five-time qualifier for the NCAA championships, a three-time all-American and five-time America East champion, effectively making him Binghamton’s most decorated athlete in the school’s 12-year Division I history.
Despite all that, Quiller humbly described the experience of being honored at halftime of Saturday’s men’s basketball game as surreal.
“To be back here even looking underneath the bleachers … seeing the old track, and the sweat stains that I’m sure I left a lot of, it means a bunch,” Quiller said. “It’s really kind of where I became a pole vaulter, so it means a lot, and I’m really happy that Binghamton had me back.”
Taking the NCAA title was really just a matter of time for Quiller after he captured second place in the tournament in 2007. What may have been the more difficult part of the process was simply getting there — after finishing his undergraduate career at Binghamton, in order to participate with the team for a fifth year, he had to apply for graduate school. Even with his good grades (he graduated with a 3.7 GPA), Quiller said, gaining acceptance into the School of Management’s graduate program was difficult. But he did it, and he returned to the program for one more historic year.
“That was kind of a strange year because that was my first year at grad school, so I didn’t even know where I was going to be,” Quiller said. “I loved my coach [head coach Mike Thompson] — and he’s still here; he does a great job. I wanted nothing more than to compete for him for that fifth year because I’d gotten second the year before and thought maybe I could win it the following year in 2008 … Athletically, coach Thompson just set the table for me great. He had the workouts written, kept me healthy and the math kind of equaled out to be in my favor, so I was pretty lucky to have it all work out.”
After becoming an NCAA champion, Quiller competed in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials, reaching the finals with an eighth-place finish in 2012 to build upon his 13th-place semifinals finish in 2008. He also placed second in the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2008, and third in 2011.
Now, Quiller is a first-year volunteer assistant pole vault coach for the Navy men’s and women’s track and field teams.
One of 91 Hall of Fame members, Quiller has already made Binghamton University proud. But if history really does repeat itself, and Quiller decides to compete at the Olympic Trials for a third time, BU might need some higher honors to bestow on the ever-improving pole vaulter.