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Delethea Quarles

Delethea Quarles

Delethea “Dee” Quarles is a 31-year veteran of international and collegiate track & field, including the past 24 years as an integral member of the South Carolina coaching staff. Over the course of three legendary decades, the Covington, Va., native has mentored countless Olympians, NCAA and World champions, All-Americans, and scholar-athletes.

Quarles joined the Carolina program prior to the 1998 season and four years later guided the Carolina women’s squad to the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Team Championship. She was promoted to Assistant Head Coach prior to the 2005 season, a position she still holds today. Her primary responsibilities in Columbia include coaching the team’s jumpers and multi-event athletes, and she plays a vital leadership role in all aspects of the program, including recruiting, operations, and academics.

While Quarles’s primary focus is on her athletes, her tremendous impact throughout the industry has led to numerous individual awards and honors. She’s served on the Team USA staff at each of the last four IAAF World Championships, including serving as the women’s team head coach at the 2015 event in Beijing. Collegiately, she was named USTFCCCA Southeast Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2018. She’s also a member of the athletic hall of fame at her alma mater, Liberty University, where she was a Penn Relays champion and three-time All-American as a student-athlete, then later served as an assistant coach for eight seasons.

Quarles arrived in Columbia in 1998 and immediately set to work helping head coach Curtis Frye build one of the most successful collegiate programs in the entire sport. Since Quarles’s arrival, the Gamecocks have earned 55 total top-25 team finishes at the NCAA Championships level, including 29 top-10 team results. Carolina won SEC Women’s Outdoor Championships in 1999, 2002, and 2005, and five Gamecock individuals have won national athlete of the year honors – Miki Barber (2000 women’s outdoor), Terrence Trammell (2000 men’s outdoor), Lashinda Demus (2002 women’s overall), Demetria Washington (2002 women’s indoor), and Natasha Hastings (2007 women’s overall).

With Quarles as one of the architects, the Gamecocks have prided themselves on being a program that hits its stride under the bright lights of the NCAA Championships. The results are a testament to that mindset, as Carolina has won 43 individual and relay NCAA titles since 1998, led by outdoor high jump winners Jeannelle Scheper (2015) and Rachel Glenn (2021). Overall, the Gamecocks have collected 609 separate All-America laurels since 1998, an average of 25.4 All-America honors per season. 48 of those honors have been won by the Gamecock multis and jumps crews that trained under Quarles every day.

Of course, no record of Carolina’s national success is complete without a nod to the team’s victory at the 2002 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Championships. The team NCAA title was the first for any sport – men or women – at South Carolina, and Quarles’s event group was a vital part of the win. South Carolina earned 82 points on the way to the title, edging UCLA by just 10 points. Quarles’s student-athletes accounted for nine points, with Tacita Bass taking bronze in the heptathlon and Antoinette Wilks finishing sixth in long jump. Wilks also grabbed All-America laurels in the triple jump as the Gamecocks posted one of the finest days in University of South Carolina history.

Carolina student-athletes have won 14 SEC athlete of the year honors during Quarles’ tenure, with Wilks earning the prize of the top scorer at the SEC Outdoor Women’s Championship in 2002 under the watchful eye of Quarles. Overall, the Gamecocks have combined for 100 SEC individual and relay championships during the Quarles era. Seven of those are part of Quarles’ event groups, including women’s high jump conference champions Jeannelle Scheper (2015 outdoor), Nakita Gray (2016 indoor), and Rachel Glenn (2021 outdoor).
At America’s premier annual track meet, the Penn Relays, one can see Quarles’s fingerprints on nearly every inch of famed Franklin Field. Her jumpers have won nine Championship of America and two college division titles, including three straight men’s long jump wins by Yann Randrianasolo from 2017-2019. Since 1998, Carolina athletes have also won 23 Championship of America relay wagon wheels, and Gamecock alumni have claimed 19 USA vs. the World relay victories.

As track & field continues to evolve, Quarles has remained one of the sport’s preeminent leaders, and her most recent season was evidence of a master teacher still at the top of her game. Under Quarles’s guidance, Glenn won the 2021 NCAA and SEC outdoor high jump championships, becoming the first true freshman in 15 years to win either title. With Glenn as the primary point scorer and Quarles as her guiding presence, the Gamecock women finished in the top-20 for the fourth consecutive NCAA championship meet. Including the men’s program, it was Carolina’s 11th national top-20 finish since 2014.

In fact, the 2021 season was a continuation of the best stretch of Quarles’s event coaching career. Of the 48 Gamecock All-Americans that trained in Quarles’s event groups, 28 have come in the last decade. Outside of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Quarles has trained at least two All-American honorees each year since 2012, including a personal-high seven All-Americans in 2018. The banner 2018 campaign, which included four All-Americans at the NCAA Indoor Women’s Championship, earned Quarles a long overdue Regional Coach of the Year award for the first time.

One look at Carolina’s program top-10 list is enough to see the lasting impact that Quarles has made on the squad’s jumps and multis efforts. Every single program record in the 14 events that Quarles directly manages has been set by a student-athlete that trained under her.

In a nation rich with international tradition, Quarles has distinguished herself as one of Team USA’s most impactful coaches. She has served as head coach of Team USA three times on the international stage – leading the American women at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, and the 2007 Pan American Junior Championship in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She was also the head coach for Team USA’s multi group at the USA vs. The Netherlands heptathlon event in 2002.

At the World Championships, Team USA’s women earned nine medals, including gold medal efforts by Allyson Felix (400m) and Tianna Bartoletta (long jump), with Quarles serving as Bartoletta’s event coach during the run to the title. Gamecock legend Hastings was also part of the team under Quarles, helping the Americans secure silver in the 4x400m relay.

At the Pan Am juniors in 2007, Quarles helped the Americans secure a meet-record 48 medals across the men’s and women’s competitions. Several future senior-level world and Olympic medalists were part of Quarles’s team, including 2007 gold medal winners Bianca Knight (200m), Kristi Castlin (100mH), Queen Harrison (400mH), and Jessica Beard (4x400m relay). The 2007 Pan Am women’s squad also collected gold in the long jump and triple jump thanks in part of the event expertise of Quarles.

Overall, Quarles has served on the Team USA staff at eight major international events. She was tabbed as an assistant for the 2005 Pan American Championships, the 2006 World Cup, the IAAF World Championships in 2011, 2013, and 2019, and the 2019 World University Games. In addition to serving as jumps coach, Quarles’s expertise is extensive enough that she has also assisted with Team USA’s efforts in the pole vault and the multis. The list of athletes that have medaled on the World Championships stage under the tutelage of Quarles is a who’s who of American track royalty, including Brittany Reese (2011 and 2013 long jump gold), Brigetta Barrett (2013 high jump gold), Jenn Suhr (2013 pole vault silver), Michelle Carter (2015 shot put bronze), and Vashti Cunningham (2019 high jump bronze).

Of course, the impact Quarles has made in the international arena stretches far beyond her work with Team USA, extending to the members of the South Carolina program that have gone on to global success. Since Quarles’s arrival in 1998, Carolina has sent 24 athletes to the Olympic Games, including representatives for American Samoa, the Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and of course, the United States of America. Not just content to compete on the world’s stage, the athletes that Quarles coached at Carolina have gone on to take the Olympic medal stand many times. Former Gamecocks Charmaine Howell (4x400m silver) and Terrence Trammell (110mH silver) earned medals at the 2000 Sydney Games. Trammell repeated as silver medalist in Athens in 2004, joining fellow Gamecocks Aleen Bailey (4x100m relay gold), Otis Harris (4x400m relay gold, 400m silver), and Tonique Williams (400m gold). Hastings won gold in the 4x400m relay at the 2008 Beijing Games, before Lashinda Demus (400mH) and Jason Richardson (110mH) earned silver in London in 2012. Most recently, at the 2016 Rio Games, Hastings won another 4x400m relay gold.

Quarles was in the coaches’ box in Rio, serving as the personal coach for Scheper, who competed in the high jump. Carolina’s Aliyah Abrams (400m, Guyana) and Kierre Beckles (100mH, Barbados) also competed in Rio.

Throughout her three decades as a college coach, including 24 seasons at Carolina, Quarles has stood for much more than on-track success. In fact, Quarles served as the coaching staff’s academic liaison for nearly two decades, and she works just as hard to instill the importance of academic success as she does helping her athletes clear the next bar. During Quarles’s tenure, the Gamecock program has earned four USTFCCCA Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, led by Richardson’s indoor and outdoor honors in 2008. Carolina has also earned five SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year titles. Scheper was the conference’s top scholar on the women’s side in 2015, and most recently, Abrams won the award in 2019.

As a team, the Carolina women were honored as USTFCCA Academic National Champions in 2006, and the Carolina men won the award in 2009 for their classroom prowess.

Citizenship and community service are also pillars of Quarles’s mindset as she guides her student-athletes. With Quarles serving as mentor, Carolina’s Maya Evans was named the 2017 SEC Brad Davis Community Service Leader of the Year, an all-sports award.

A USTFCCCA member since 1997, Quarles is an important voice in the world of track & field far beyond what happens inside of the oval. She’s served on the USTFCCCA’s Women’s Development and Heptathlon Committees for 25 years, helping to set the sport’s agenda in both areas. She was part of the NCAA’s Minority Coaches Leadership Development program in 2017, which was also the first year she began serving on the USATF’s Women’s Commission.

Before joining the South Carolina staff in 1998, Quarles spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Liberty University. During her time on staff in Lynchburg, Va., Quarles led the Flames to Big South Conference outdoor titles  on both the men’s and women’s side in 1994, 1995, and 1996, and the men’s squad added IC4A indoor conference titles in 1994 and 1995. While at Liberty, she also represented the athletic department on the NCAA’s Gender Equity Committee.

As a student-athlete, Quarles helped Liberty claim indoor and outdoor conference championships in 1988 and 1989, thanks to her standout performances in the heptathlon. A three-time All-American, she placed fifth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championship.

Quarles was the first student-athlete in Liberty program history to score more than 200 points in a season, she remains one of only 11 in program history to achieve the feat. She won the 1989 Penn Relays title in the 100m hurdles, and she held the Liberty program record in the event for more than 20 years before it was broken in 2010.

She graduated from Liberty in 1990 with a B.S. in psychology.

Hometown: Covington, Va.
Currently Resides: Elgin, S.C.
Education: B.S., Psychology – Liberty, 1990

Athletic Career
1987-90: Liberty – Multis
– Three-time NCAA Division II All-American

Collegiate Coaching Career
1989-97: Liberty – Assistant Coach
– 1994, 1995, and 1996 Big South Conference women’s outdoor champions
– 1994, 1995, and 1996 Big South Conference men’s outdoor champions
– 1994 and 1995 IC4A men’s indoor champions
1997-2005: South Carolina – Assistant Coach
2005-Present: South Carolina – Asst. Head Coach
– 2002 NCAA women’s outdoor champions
– 1999, 2002, and 2005 SEC women’s outdoor champions

Team USA Coaching Career
2002: Head Coach, USA vs. The Netherlands heptathlon event – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2005: Assistant Coach, Pan American Championships – Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2006: Assistant Coach, World Cup – Athens, Greece
2007: Women’s Head Coach, Pan American Junior Championships – Sao Paolo, Brazil
2011: Assistant Coach, IAAF World Championships – Daegu, South Korea
2013: Assistant Coach, IAAF World Championships – Moscow, Russia
2015: Women’s Head Coach, IAAF World Championships – Beijing, China
2019: Assistant Coach, IAAF World Championships – Doha, Qatar
NCAA Champions under Quarles
Jeannelle Scheper – Women’s Outdoor High Jump
2021: Rachel Glenn – Women’s Outdoor High Jump
Overall, Carolina has won 43 NCAA individual and relay championships since 1998

Team USA IAAF World Championships medalists under Quarles
Brittney Reese – Long Jump – Gold
2013: Brigetta Barrett – High Jump – Gold
2013: Jenn Suhr – Pole Vault – Silver
2013: Brittney Reese – Long Jump – Gold
2015: Tori Bowie – 100m – Bronze
2015: Allyson Felix – 400m – Gold
2015: Emily Infeld – 10,000m – Bronze
2015: Shamier Little – 400mH – Silver
2015: Cassandra Tate – 400mH – Bronze
2015: 4x100m Relay – Silver
2015: 4x400m Relay – Silver
2015: Tianna Bartoletta – Long Jump – Gold
2015: Michelle Carter – Shot Put – Bronze
2019: Vashti Cunningham – High Jump – Bronze

USTFCCCA Scholar-Athletes of the Year under Quarles
Otukile Lekote – Men’s Indoor
2006: Shalonda Solomon – Women’s Indoor
2008: Jason Richardson – Men’s Indoor
2008: Jason Richardson – Men’s Outdoor
SEC Champions under Quarles
Erin Narzinski – Women’s Outdoor Heptathlon
2002: Tacita Bass – Women’s Outdoor Heptathlon
2005: Kamesha Whitmire – Women’s Outdoor Triple Jump
2010: Kettiany Clark – Women’s Indoor Pentathlon
2015: Jeannelle Scheper – Women’s Outdoor High Jump
2016: Nakita Gray – Women’s Indoor High Jump
2021: Rachel Glenn – Women’s Outdoor High Jump
Overall, Carolina has won 100 SEC individual and relay championships since 1998

SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year under Quarles
Natasha Hastings – Women
2012: Marvin Reitze – Men
2015: Jeannelle Scheper – Women
2018: Ncincilili Titi – Men
2019: Aliyah Abrams – Women

NCAA Team National Championship
2 USTFCCCA Team Academic National Championships
2 NCAA individual champions (jumps and multis)
3 SEC team championships
4 USTFCCCA Scholar-Athletes of the Year
5 SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year
7 SEC individual champions (jumps and multis)
9 Penn Relays Champions of America (jumps and multis)
19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans
24 Future Olympians who trained under Quarles at South Carolina
29 NCAA Team Championships top-10 finishes
48 All-Americans (jumps and multis)
55 NCAA Team Championships top-25 finishes