With classmates, family members and friends watching from computer and phone screens near and far, four Durham Academy seniors formally committed to compete in college athletics on Wednesday. Quinn Shanahan will run cross-country and track at Butler University; both Jay Shanahan and Anna Catherine Wilson will run cross-country and track at Davidson College; and Jackson Brimfield will play golf at the University of Louisville.
The signing ceremony typically attracts a crowd of classmates, family members, coaches and teachers. However — in keeping with DA’s COVID-19 protocols — the in-person audience in Kirby Gym this year was limited to signees, their immediate family members, coaches of represented teams and school administrators. The ceremony was live-streamed (a recording is available, with the ceremony starting around the 5-minute mark) for others to safely watch from afar, and the student-athletes were split among three tables (with twin siblings Quinn Shanahan and Jay Shanahan sharing a table).
“This morning, we are excited and honored to be celebrating four members of our senior class who will be signing their national letter of intent to continue their sports endeavors in college,” Director of Athletics Andy Pogach said to open the ceremony. “These four student-athletes represent the best of Durham Academy athletics. All four of them certainly have made their mark individually, but more important is the mark they have made on their teams, their teammates and their coaches.”
Butler University, Cross-Country and Track and Field
Quinn Shanahan competed with DA’s varsity cross-country team from 2017 to 2019. In 2019, she earned a runner-up finish in the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference cross-country meet and finished third in the NCISAA. As a competitor with the DA track and field team in 2019, she was runner-up in the TISAC 800m race and finished seventh in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 800m run.
“Quinn was part of Durham Academy’s two conference team championships and two state team championships in her three years with the cross-country program and was part of the 2019 team that was the best team in Durham Academy and NCISAA history,” said girls track and cross-country coach Kristin Stroupe. “Despite challenges with compartment syndrome, during her time on DA teams, Quinn trained and raced through pain and discomfort. Her toughness and determination led her to All-Conference and All-State honors in 2019. We wish her all the best next year and in the future.”
Quinn Shanahan has also racked up a slew of cross-country honors outside of her competition in a Cavaliers uniform. Among those is a first-place finish in the Monster Dash Invitational in October 2020, which she earned with a personal-best time of 17:49.40 — the third-fastest 5K in the state and 117th fastest in the nation.
At Butler — where Quinn Shanahan plans to major in international business — she said she’s looking forward to working with the Bulldog coaches and running in some “absolutely amazing places” on campus.
“My parents and my brother, Jay, have been with me every step of the way. I can’t be more grateful for them and their support,” she said. “My mom, especially, has supported me, motivated me and cheered me on throughout this process. She has been a motivation and one of my greatest fans (even driving me in the rain to our 6 a.m. runs!). I have learned so much from my dad, and he has only ever pushed to run faster, harder and constantly reach for the goals I thought were unattainable. My brother continues to inspire me through his own running. I’m so happy to have gone through all of this with him. He’s my best friend.”
Davidson College, Cross-Country and Track and Field
Jay Shanahan recently completed his fourth season as a varsity DA cross-country runner and has been a member of the Cavs track and field team since 2018. He holds the record for the fastest 5K cross-country time in DA history, 15:41.80, and has broken 16:00 on three different courses. As a cross-country runner, he has earned third-, fifth- and eighth-place finishes in the NCISAA meet, as well as two second-place finishes and a fourth-place finish in the TISAC meet. He has helped the Cavs to two TISAC team championships and two state runner-up finishes.
“There are two unique things about Jay’s approach that make him special,” said boys track and cross-country coach Costen Irons. “One, his dedication to the process. A lot of athletes can dedicate two hours to training a day. There are important things the other 22 hours. Jay takes care of his body and does all the little things (diet, sleep, core, rolling, stretching) to reach his potential.
“And, two, his love for the process,” Irons continued. “He loves to run. He loves to train. He loves to run fast. And he loves to run with his teammates. His enthusiasm for all of it is contagious. … It has been an honor and a joy to coach Jay Shanahan.”
Jay Shanahan said he is excited and grateful to be able to continue running at Davidson.
“I never thought that I would be given the opportunity to compete in athletics at a Division 1 school. Overall, I'm looking forward to competing at the collegiate level and meeting new people. I can't wait to meet and train with the rest of the team and compete in the Atlantic 10 like my mom used to!
“Coach Irons and Coach [Dennis] Cullen have been writing my workouts, taking me to races and inspiring me every day. I couldn't have been half the runner I am now without their guidance and wisdom. Also, my previous and current teammates encourage me every day to train harder and run faster. My freshman year, I was a very ‘middle of the pack’ runner. At the end of the year, some of the juniors convinced me that I had potential and could run fast if I was motivated and worked hard. I still talk and run with them, and they helped mold me into the runner I am today.”
Anna Catherine Wilson
Davidson College, Cross-Country and Track and Field
Wilson has competed with DA’s varsity cross-country and track and field teams since her ninth-grade year and served as a team captain for both teams in 2020. In cross-country, she holds a best time of 18:58, becoming only the eighth DA girl to run under 19:00 on a 5K course. Wilson has been named All-Conference three times, having notched a runner-up finish and two fourth-place finishes in the TISAC meet. She has also been named All-State three times, having earned third-, fifth- and seventh-place finishes in the NCISAA meet over the last three years. Wilson’s teams have twice been state and TISAC champions.
In track, Wilson was state runner-up in the 2019 NCISAA meet 3200m race and third place in the 1600m race. At the 2019 TISAC meet, she won the 3200m race and placed third in the 1600m race.
“Anna Catherine has been a joy to coach the past four years,” Stroupe said. “She is eager, dedicated, coachable, kind and tough. No matter what came her way during her running career, she always gave her best effort and had a positive attitude. She is a team-first student-athlete, always looking out for her teammates and has been a dedicated leader and captain of her teams. While we will miss her terribly, Davidson is so lucky to have her, and she will be a positive contributor to their program.”
Wilson said she’s thrilled to be able to continue competing at the collegiate level at Davidson — a school that she sees as having a similar “close-knit community” as she’s enjoyed at Durham Academy.
“My love of running began when I was in Middle School, and it has played an important role in my life since then. Running on the cross-country and track teams at DA has made me realize how much I love being a part of a team, and I am so excited that I will continue running with the team at Davidson for the next four years. …
“My family and friends have always supported me with both school and running, and I am so grateful for all of their support,” Wilson continued. “I have also been incredibly blessed with amazing teammates and coaches. Coach Irons, Coach Stroupe and Mr. Cullen have been such amazing mentors and coaches to me throughout high school. Coach Stroupe has been a tremendous role model and coach for me these past four years. They have all taught me lessons that I will carry with me into college and beyond, and I can’t thank DA enough for the opportunities and coaches they have provided me.”
University of Louisville, Golf
Brimfield has competed with the DA varsity boys golf team since his seventh-grade year. In that time, he has been named All-Conference four times and All-State in 2019. He was the top-ranked player in the NCISAA’s 4A division in spring 2020 when the season was suspended due to COVID-19. Brimfield has had top-10 finishes in multiple American Junior Golf Association events in 2019 and 2020. He is currently ranked No. 2 in his class in North Carolina in the AJGA Rolex Rankings and is ranked within the top 150 nationwide.
“I am extremely proud of Jackson,” boys golf coach Greg Murray said. “He personifies the perfect blend of talent, work ethic, sportsmanship and maturity. He has been a mainstay in our lineup since joining the team in seventh grade, and our teams have been extremely successful during that run. He is known statewide as a gentleman on the course. Louisville is getting a diamond that's rarely in the rough!”