Turner Kelly has championship goals in final year
Hunter O. Lyle—Sports Editor
When Turner Kelly walked into Walter G O’Connell Copaigue High School, becoming a member of the track and field team wasn’t on his radar. After throwing for four years at his hometown high school, and another four at Southern, senior thrower Kelly said he was glad he did.
Kelly said his career started when the track and field coach at his high school recruited him during football season.
“In ninth–grade, after a little JV football, [the coach] said ‘you should stay in shape for track, that way you can do well in football,’” said Kelly, “not knowing that it would kind of lead me down this path I’ve chosen.”
Kelly said that while track was not an immediate fit, it grew on him the more he was involved in it.
After becoming a county champion and a two time All-League select in his home town, Kelly enrolled at Southern in 2015 and has been improving his skills with each year he has been there.
Head coach John Wallin said the difference between freshman Kelly and senior Kelly is almost astounding.
“Freshman Kelly [Turner] was weak as a kitten,” said Wallin. “[Now] Turner is closer to being a cat, not quite a tiger or a lion, but he’s getting closer.”
In his sophomore year as an Owl, Kelly became All Region in the weight, as well as All New England and NE-10 Champion in indoor and outdoor shot put.
He then went on the next year to claim those titles again, while also being named the “Most Outstanding Field Performer” at both the NE–10 Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Wallin also went on to say that Kelly bought into the program quickly, and wants to be the best athletic version of himself that he can be.
“He’s a guy that’s really into the team. He gets excited for his teammates,” said Wallin. “He has high expectations for his own individual goals. He wants to go to the National Championships, he wants to compete and be an All American and maybe a National Champ. So, he has a wide spectrum of goals and expectations not only for himself but for his team.”
Fellow senior thrower Kade Amster said Kelly brings a presence to the team and he motivates and supports them time and time again.
“Turner is a really good teammate, but a better friend,” said Amster. “Just knowing that he has my back, and the rest of the team, I think everyone is sure in their heads that he’s going places.”
As the team currently sits at third in NE-10, Kelly said that he is focused on and looks forward to the upcoming New England meet on Feb. 16 and 17, then the National meet on Mar. 8.
“The season is going great. I think everything is building up to an even better part of the season, which is indoor nationals,” said Kelly. “I actually am very much improving on my shot and my weight, and also at the same time, my teammates are too.”
As his senior year winds down, Kelly said that while reflecting on his time at Southern, the one thing he has taken away the most is not to doubt anyone.
“Don’t count anybody out, and that’s the truth,” said Kelly. “At one moment you could be on top, or you may be on the very bottom, but the next thing you know, it could switch up easily.”