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PITTSBURG — During her four-year career at Pittsburg High School, Faith Turner has been a winner for the Purple Dragon track and field program. In all, she has been an 11-time all-state performer, capturing four Class 5A championships and nine individual Southeast Kansas League titles.
After back-to-back state titles in the long jump and triple jump, the senior was hoping to make it a three-peat to cap off her PHS career. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those dreams, and she now turns her focus on a future at NCAA Division I Wichita State University.
“I won my sophomore and junior years in long jump and triple jump,” Turner said. “I was going to try and defend my title this year, but my season got cancelled. If I am being honest, it felt like my world was over just because it was my senior year and my last year to stand on that state podium.”
Turner has been a dominant figure for the Purple Dragon program. In addition to earning all-state 11 times and four state championships, she holds four PHS school records — both individually and as part of relay teams. During her time, she has also been instrumental in three Southeast Kansas League championships and a fourth-place finish as a team in Class 5A at last year’s Kansas State Track and Field Championships in Wichita.
“My expectations for myself did not change,” Turner said. “I always hold myself to a high standard when it comes to track and field. Now the pressure, on the other hand, I did feel, but that only made me push harder.”
A year ago, Turner captured a second straight 5A girls’ long jump title with a leap of 18-1. She also repeated her championship in the triple jump with a mark of 39-1. In addition to those performances, she finished third in the 100-meter dash and was part of the 4 x 100 relay team that took fourth place in that event.
“It was overall an amazing experience for me,” Turner said. “I participate in the biggest state track meet in the nation, and it is just an amazing feeling. I never go into a state meet thinking I have this in the bag, but that’s always the goal. So I wouldn’t say I was expecting to win, and I wouldn’t say that I was surprised either because I have put in the work to get where I am today.”
Turner’s talents at Pittsburg have not been limited to just the track and field program. In fact, she was also a standout for the Purple Dragon volleyball team. After earning All-SEK Second Team in the sport as a junior, she moved up to First Team this past fall for a Purple Dragon squad that finished 23-12 overall and in second place behind champion Independence in the final league standings.
“I loved volleyball, too,” said Turner, who was the two-time recipient of PHS’ Megan Mallet Award. “I played varsity since my sophomore year as a defensive specialist and then moved back to a setter junior and senior year.”
Seniors throughout the state of Kansas have had to deal with uncertainty surrounding the end of their high school careers. Not only was the Kansas State High School Activities Association forced to cancel the spring sports season due to the ongoing pandemic, but all high school buildings were closed for the remainder of the school year … meaning no more in-person classes.
“If I am being completely honest, when I found out my senior year was basically cancelled, I cried as soon as I heard and a few more days after that,” Turner said. “I just felt torn apart. We are still doing online classes right now, and I haven’t heard anything about graduation. But they have made a plan for prom to be held in June I believe. Honestly it feels great because they are actually trying to give the seniors what they deserve.”
Although there is plenty of uncertainty with the end of her high school career, Turner is still looking ahead to her time at Wichita State University. She officially signed with the Shocker track and field program last December.
“It has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Turner said. “It took off a ton of pressure (when I officially signed). They expect big things from me in the coming season. They expect me to qualify and place in our conference. When it comes to preparing for college, I am doing everything my coach tells me to do with workouts and stretches.”
The Wichita State track and field program had its season also cut short due to the pandemic as it was competing in its third year in the American Athletic Conference. Under the direction of 20th year coach Steve Rainbolt, the Shockers have earned 72 All-American honors, 93 NCAA national qualifiers and 247 conference champions with 158 school records over the past two decades.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT FAITH TURNER …
SEK-SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
TURNER: “I like to draw and paint.”
SEK-SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
TURNER: “Usain Bolt. My favorite artist is Alex Benjamin.”
SEK-SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
TURNER: “My mom.”
SEK-SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
TURNER: “I can sing.”