Breaking a school record is a sure way to make a name for yourself on campus, and that’s exactly what junior sprinter and jumper Paul Turner did last month.
On March 3, Turner jumped 50 feet, 9 and ½ inches – making him the first Leopard in history to reach the 50-foot mark in the triple jump.
This length is also the second best jump in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history.
“It feels really good,” Turner said. “Now I want to just keep breaking it until it’s unbreakable.”
In addition to this major accomplishment, Turner was also named SCIAC Male Athlete of the Week for the week of Feb. 27 through March 4, and is the reigning NCAA Division III Outdoor Champion in the long jump.
He has also been able to capture a total of four individual SCIAC titles since he joined the La Verne team in his freshman year.
Unfortunately, he had to sit a few weeks out of the season due to a minor strain in his right hamstring, which he endured at the Redlands Invitational on March 16.
But not even an injury was enough to discourage Turner, who is now recovered and returned to the team as of last week.
“It’s just a minor setback,” Turner said.
It is his determination, dedication and list of achievements that have cemented Turner’s status as a standout on the La Verne track and field team.
“Ever since he started here as a freshman, he’s been one of the superstars,” Jason Tavarez, sprinters coach, said. “He’s one of the real leaders.”
According to his coaches, Turner is always 100 percent motivated during practices and meets, and he always exemplifies everything that a true athlete should be.
“He’s got one of the biggest hearts on the team,” Joshua Linker, long jump and triple jump coach, said. “He always wants to help others during practices, and he’ll go out of his way to do it.”
Turner even holds the triple jump record at Indio High School, which he set during his senior year.
Ironically, track and field did not start out as Turner’s sport of choice.
He used to love basketball and football, until his mom and uncle got him involved in track and field six years ago.
Ever since then, he has grown to love it.
“It gives me purpose,” Turner said. “I’m very passionate about the sport.”
“He’s a dream to coach,” Tavarez said. “He’s incredibly talented. He does everything you ask, and then some.”
Although Turner dedicates a great deal of his time to track, he’s also very well-rounded in other things.
In his free time, he likes to play piano and hang out with his friends.
“I have lot of really good friends here [at La Verne],” Turner said. “I just love the close-knit community here. This is the place to be.”
Turner majors in public administration with a minor in business management, and aspires to be a city manager one day.
However, he plans to keep track and field a priority as long as he is able to.
“If track continues to go well, I’d want to be on the USA Olympic Team one day,” Turner said.
At the rate he is going, this seems like a big possibility for Turner in the near future.
“His future is based on how hard he continues to work,” Tavarez said.
For the time being, Turner just wants to focus on upholding his reputation as one of the most outstanding athletes at the university.
“I want to make sure my record stays unbreakable,” Turner said.
“I just want to be remembered. I want to leave a legacy,” he said.
Danielle Navarro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.