SAN ANTONIO — The demanding, two-day, 10-event decathlon is one of the toughest regimens in sports.
It takes a certain type of person to compete. UTSA freshman Jack Turner fits that mold.
“I think I’ve always liked to do everything I can and try stuff out,” Turner said.
Turner won the decathlon at the Conference USA outdoor meet this spring. His marks were good enough to qualify for this month’s NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“I wake up every day, I don't even think about what I'm going to do,” Turner said. “I know I’m going to the track. I know I’m going to train.”
UTSA’s track has been Turner’s home away from home since coming to San Antonio in 2019. He’s hit it off with UTSA coach Aaron Fox, too. Fox was an All-American in the decathlon at the University of Texas in the late 1990s.
“We’re kind of jack of all trades, so we like to dabble in a little bit of everything,” said Fox, who’s led the UTSA men’s program since 2003. “I didn't want to go to a meet and just do one event and Jack's the same way. He doesn't want to go and do one event over and over again, he wants to try new things.”
That eclectic personality helped Turner produce track and field success growing up in southwest England.
“The club that I went to just took me through all the events when I was younger,” Turner said. “That’s kind of just how you did it and I really enjoyed trying everything - now I’m just stuck doing 10.”
Because he’s good at doing all 10.
Turner set a British U18 decathlon record at the European Championships in 2018. He hopes a repeat performance is in store at the Division-I championships.
“I don’t focus on anyone but myself and just getting those scores,” Turner said. “Now going into NCAAs, it’s just go and have a great time, let loose and see what I can do.”
An attitude that sounds like what Turner does when he’s got any downtime at school.
“I started playing guitar when I was about 10 and kept playing it, just loved it,” Turner said. “Stopped for a couple of years and thankfully, I got back into it.”
Turner learned guitar because of his mom, who was a classical guitarist. He now loses himself in the universal language nearly every weekend.
“Some Sundays, I wake up at 10 and it will be like 3 o’clock and I’m still playing,” Turner said. “I’m like, Oh Lord, I need to go or eat something.”
Dabbling like a true decathlete.
“Everyone loves listening to music,” Turner said. “I think playing guitar is listening to music and some, like you’re playing along with it or you’re making your own music.”
Turner said he’s performed once with friends at a high school summer ball. He didn’t rule out more gigs in the future, with the possibility of a collaboration with Coach Fox.
“We might make a little video for the team or something like that. I'll lay down some chords and he'll put a guitar rift to it, just for fun,” Fox said.”
Regardless if it’s six strings or 10 events...
“It’s a just great feeling,” Turner said. “You kind of get lost in it.”