GLASGOW — After a successful track and field career at Monroe County High School, Grace Turner will be taking her talents to Western Kentucky University.
Turner capped off her prep career with her third straight state title in pole vaulting while also taking top honors in high jump at the Class 1A state track meet last May at the University of Kentucky Outdoor Track Facility in Lexington.
The Lady Falcon entered the state competition as the No. 1 seed in both events and won first place in Girls’ Pole Vault (12-01, 3.68m) — breaking the previous 1A state record of 12-00, set by Fairview’s Morgan McIntyre in 2014 — and first place in Girls’ High Jump (5-04, 1.62m).
When asked what she enjoys most about pole vaulting, Turner said she likes “the fact that not a lot of people do it, and you get a lot of questions.”
“It’s just really cool to watch, and to do,” Turner told the Glasgow Daily Times earlier this year during a track meet at Barren County High School. “It’s a really nice environment, because everybody’s cheering for everybody. It’s not too aggressive. Everyone’s happy when you do good.”
Turner said the sensation of flying through the air can be different every time.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re up there for like .2 seconds, but other times it feels like it’s slow motion,” she said. “You can see everything and then you land on the mat and you get brought back to reality.”
The former Lady Falcon will now be wearing a red and white uniform as she competes for WKU.
“It’s basically my dream school,” Turner said. “I never thought I’d be able to go to Western and go (Division I). I’m just really excited for the whole experience to be on a big track team and push myself to do a lot better.”
Turner said the most challenging part about pole vaulting is mastering the technique.
“You can get nine-and-a-half (feet) without any technique. You can just use speed,” she said. “But then I really needed technique to push me up — and now that I’m starting to get that, it’s really helping me get on bigger poles and get bigger bars.”
Dr. Michael Carter, Turner’s former coach at Monroe County, told the Daily Times that Turner has what it takes to be a great pole vaulter.
“Grace has got the speed, the strength,” Carter said. She’s got her head about her. She really knows what she’s doing and she tries so hard every time.
“She’s got every attribute that a pole vaulter needs, and if you look at her, she’s got muscles. She can run fast and she will listen and try to learn — and that’s what you gotta have in a vaulter.”
Jarrett Murphy, who helped recruit Turner and will be coaching her at WKU, told the Daily Times that the former Lady Falcon has “a whole lot of ability.”
“She can jump a whole lot higher than she’s jumped all year,” he said. “Very, very good student. Just an all-around athlete.
“When I’m looking at prospective athletes, I like the fact when they play more than one sport, and she played basketball, volleyball and track, so you know she’s extremely athletic — and that’s just going to help her later on in her training.”
Murphy said he’s very excited to have Turner compete for WKU.
“I think she’ll come in and be a contributor right away,” he said. “Look for her to possibly be an NCAA first-round qualifier as a true freshman.”
When asked what advice she would give to young athletes who want to get into pole vaulting, Turner said to “not give up after your first practice.”
“I’ve seen so many kids come to one practice and not clear what they expected and just give up,” she said, adding that no one does well their first time. “It’s not a very natural thing to run with a stick and try to jump.
“You just have to keep working on it and have fun. Don’t take it too seriously.”