Poplarville’s Turner seeks success as multi-sport athlete with four state titles

Published 9:08 am Friday, June 2, 2017

Attending a school with minimal track facilities can be difficult for someone who is passionate about the sport. But despite that obstacle, Poplarville High School senior Zanaisha Turner used her relentless grit to become a three-time triple jump state champion.

On top of that, she was also a top basketball talent in the state, ranking 22nd in the Burnell Wesco Basketball’s 2017 top 40 list of women basketball players in Mississippi.

Being a multi-sport athlete might be a common phenomenon, but to be successful at both sports is a difficult undertaking; one that Turner enjoyed every minute of.

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“My parents instilled a fight inside of me as a little child. That fight helped me through some tough times and kept me wanting more out of myself,” Turner said. “No matter what it was, athletics or academics, I gave it my all.”

Heading into this year’s track and field season as the two-time defending triple jump and long jump state champion, Turner knew it was going to be a difficult season with the rest of the state trying to take her crown. Despite her preparation, this season was the most difficult obstacle she has ever had, she said.

“The year didn’t start out well for me. I was jumping in the 34 foot range consistently, which would only get me to third place at the state championship. I knew I had to step it up if I was to defend my title,” she said.

After squeaking by to qualify for the state championship, Turner said she couldn’t exceed 34 to 36 feet in the triple long jump. At the event, each jumper is given six attempts to get their longest jump and through her first five attempts, Turner averaged 36’7’’, which she said would have placed her in third. “I remember walking up to my last jump and telling myself, ‘It’s time. This is do or die,’ and the rest is history,” she said.

With a distance of 36’9’’ to beat, Turner soared to a personal best of 38’7’’ and landed as the triple jump state champion for the third year in a row.

“This year definitely taught me a lot about myself,” she said. “It showed me that to be successful in what you are most passionate about, always put God first through constant prayer. He will take care of the rest.”

Turner’s success didn’t come just from track training, she said she also used basketball as a way to “keep her bounce” while her competition was resting during the offseason.

“Basketball helped me a lot in track. It kept me going and allowed me to keep my competitive edge throughout the year,” she said.

With four state championship titles and recognition as the 22nd best basketball player in the class of 2017 in the state, Turner ends her Hornet career on top, but still has more she wants to accomplish.

Turner committed to Jackson State University to continue her triple jump and long jump careers.

“When I went to visit Jackson State, I felt like I was at home. Some schools are too big or too small or don’t feel right, but I didn’t have any of those feelings when I went there,” Turner said. “All of the staff were really friendly and I could tell they were there for the students and their education, which is the type of atmosphere I want to be around.”

Turner said she will pursue a major in biology at JSU.

while attending Jackson State University.