The gang that hangs out in the La Salle track office experienced a few moments of joy after Sean Quigley returned to campus last month as the

fastest man in the world

for 2008 in the 10,000-meter run.

Quigley had a time of 28 minutes, 3.72 seconds for the 6.2-mile distance on April 4 at the Stanford Invitational in California, putting a La Salle name on the best-of-the-year list with some of the world's top runners.

But for Quigley and his coach, Charles Torpey, this wasn't the time to send balloons into the sky over 20th and Olney, but to resume normal training.

Quigley is preparing for three big races in the next few weeks, capped by the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in a quest to get a La Salle name in Beijing.

Besides, Quigley said, none of the top 10,000-meter runners from Kenya or Ethiopia had yet competed at the distance, so his time was nothing to celebrate.

"

I didn't really think about it," the redshirt senior said. "It's not like I'm the No. 1 guy in the world. It was funny to see my name in print, but no way."

Torpey, in his 15th season as La Salle's track and field coach, called Quigley's time "sort of neat in its own way," but made sure the focus remained on what was coming up, not on what had just happened.

"It was like a frenzy around here," Torpey said, "but I told him: 'Well, that was really great, and it's great thinking about it. But we've got to forget about it and move on. It's over. We've got to keep going after what we're trying to achieve.' "

Quigley, 23, a six-time all-American in indoor track, outdoor track and cross-country, no longer has the fastest time in the world, but he enters tomorrow's NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., ranked nationally at two distances - third in the 10,000 and fifth in the 5,000, with a time of 13:30.25 posted April 20 at the Mount San Antonio College Relays in California.

He will run the 5,000 at the regional but probably move up to the 10,000 at next month's NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. It appears as if he also will compete in the longer distance at the Olympic trials on July 4.

The goal is to win, but the real prize for Quigley is at the trials - a coveted trip to China as a U.S. Olympian.

"I'm gearing toward the trials," he said. "Whatever happens at NCAAs happens. I'm definitely focused on both, but I don't want to pack it in after the NCAAs and then not do well at trials."

There has been nothing but steady improvement for Quigley, a former youth hockey player in his hometown of Braintree, Mass. He turned to track as a high school freshman after scoring well on middle-school fitness tests.

His times this year in the 5,000 and 10,000 are 19 and 26 seconds faster, respectively, than his previous personal bests. The impetus for the progress came last summer after he finished fourth in the NCAA outdoor 10,000.

After that race, "I really felt I had a really good shot at winning a national title," he said. "I've been doing the same things for years. It's just that I've gotten stronger. I can handle more things. It's a lot of maturing and years of hard work. It's all coming together."

The 5-foot-7 Quigley is a quiet, low-key guy with a strong competitive nature developed by his years of playing hockey, when he was one of the smaller guys on the ice.

However, the qualities that make Torpey smile more than the fast times and winning races are that he has put in the work to make himself a world-class runner and that he cares about his teammates.

"He went to a lot of big meets that the team was running in, but that he wasn't running in, to support them," Torpey said. "He's not special. He just happens to be the fastest one. I think that's the best part about him, that he does have it in perspective, and he wants more."

Florida-Bound

Here are athletes from local schools scheduled to compete in track and field's NCAA East Regional tomorrow and Saturday at Florida State in Tallahassee.

Men

400 meters:

Elvis Lewis, Sr., Villanova.

800:

Tim Kaijala, Sr., Penn; Mark Korich, Sr., Villanova; William Rhea, Sr., La Salle.

1,500:

Korey Edwards, Soph., La Salle; Carl McKenzie, Fr., Villanova; Michael Kerrigan, Sr., Villanova.

5,000:

Sean Quigley, Sr., La Salle; Bobby Curtis, Sr., Villanova.

Steeplechase:

Daniel Lewis, Soph., Villanova.

110 hurdles:

Steve Rendall, Jr., La Salle.

400 hurdles:

Patrick Gazzini, Sr., Villanova.

Long jump:

Kyle Calvo, Sr., Penn.

Triple jump:

John Carelli, Fr., Penn.

Javelin:

Marco Radocaj, Sr., Villanova.

4x400 relay:

La Salle.

Women

400:

Shaunee Morgan, Sr., Penn.

800:

Jesse Carlin, Sr., Penn; Arusha McKenzie, Sr., Villanova.

1,500:

Carolyn Lipovsky, Sr., La Salle; Akilah Vargas, Sr., Villanova; Ali Smith, Fr., Villanova; Callie Hogan, Fr., Villanova.

5,000:

Stacy Kim, Sr., Penn; Rachel Papin, Sr., La Salle; Frances Koons, Jr., Villanova; Christa Plummer, Fr., La Salle; Kinjal Parikh, Jr., Penn.

Steeplechase:

Liz Haglund, Sr., Villanova; Sarah Morrison, Fr., Villanova.

400 hurdles:

Assata Cowart, Fr., Temple.

Pole vault:

Melissa Gale, Soph., Temple.

Hammer throw:

Amanda Cole, Jr., Temple.

4x400 relay:

Villanova.

- Joe Juliano

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.