For the last 12 years, the name Quarton has been associated with success at Litchfield High School, be it on the track, the cross country course, or in the classroom.
First it was Victoria, who made three appearances at the state cross country meet, finishing a school-best ninth in 2011. Then it was Alexandria, a state qualifier in cross country and in track who, like Victoria, earned all-conference honors four straight times in cross country.
But over the last four years, the Quarton who has been grabbing headlines amongst those fleet of foot is Caroline, who, like her sisters, is now ready to take her next step.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Caroline signed her letter of intent to run cross country and track for Eastern Illinois University, her sister Victoria’s alma mater. While the Charleston-based school eventually won out, Caroline was planning on following in one of her sibling’s running shoes either way.
“My other choice was UIS (University of Illinois-Springfield), where Alexandria went. So I had them both in my ear,” Caroline said. “Victoria told me that if I go to Eastern, I’ll have to work hard. I’ll have to dedicate myself, because it’s Division I.”
While she will be tested at Eastern against some of the country’s best, Caroline said that EIU felt like the best fit in regards to the coaches and the team. It also didn’t hurt that she had spent more than her fair share of time there growing up.
“When I was little I would always watch Victoria run at Eastern and every time we went to the state meet, I just felt at home there,” she said of Eastern, the home of the IHSA state track meets. “What really solidified it was when I was in the admissions office and I saw the overview of the entire campus. I just knew that was where I belonged.”
And it’s easy to see why Eastern wanted Caroline in Charleston as well.
A two-time state qualifier in cross country, including last year as an individual, the third of Dr. Brian and Lori Quarton’s four children also has two state track medals from ninth place finishes in the 4x400 relay as a freshman and in the 4x800 as a sophomore.
While her sisters have put up some eye-popping results during their time at Litchfield, Caroline did accomplish something in cross country that the other two did not, finishing in the top five in the conference each of her four years at the Schneider Park race.
Even though it’s easy to compare the Quartons because of their last name, and even their running style, Caroline said she never felt that pressure from her coaches.
“My coaches see me as my own person,” she said. “I’d like to thank Mr. Palmer, Mr. Yoch and Mr. Cress for helping me, for telling me that I’m better than I think I am and for actually believing in me when I felt like I couldn’t believe in myself.”
Caroline has also gotten a lot of support from her parents and family, her friends (nearly a dozen of whom were on hand for the signing) and her teammates, especially one group from her freshman year that went on to finish 12th at the state cross country finals.
“When I was a freshman, we had Lexi (Throne) and Briana (Travis) and Madi (Throne). That was one of the closest teams I’ve been on and I’ll definitely miss that,” Caroline said of the group that made it to Detweiller Park after winning the regional and placing fifth at sectionals in 2016. “But I’m confident I’ll find that in college too.”
Like she did in athletics, Caroline is planning on following her sisters’ career path, too. In addition to her father’s career in medicine, Victoria is a nurse in Springfield, while Alexandria is in her last year of nursing school as well.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going into biology or pre-nursing,” said Caroline. “I’m stuck in between those, either doctor or nurse. Something in the medical field.”
Regardless of where her college path takes her, there is a good chance she’ll get there quickly. After all, she is a Quarton.