Josh Turner paddles to success


By Kyle Salomon,

Finding your true calling in life can take some many years, but for Mustang High School sophomore Josh Turner, he found his at a very young age.

Josh won the national championship in the 2014 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Team Trials on April 26 at the Boathouse District in downtown Oklahoma City, and is on the fast track to join the United States Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Summer Olympics as a kayaker.

The road to the water started the summer before Josh’s freshman year at Mustang when he tried out for the Broncos baseball program. Josh was a tall, athletic, left-handed pitcher who had good velocity and a big upside on the diamond.

However, Josh did not make the final cut and was left wondering what he was going to do next.

The young southpaw was in the middle of a massive growth spurt (which has him at 6 feet, 4 inches right now) and he knew he wanted to do something where he could show off his athleticism.

Josh heard about a canoeing/kayaking camp being put on at the Oklahoma City Boathouse District. He asked his father if he could participate in the camp, which his father replied, “Of course.”

The first time Josh sat in a kayak at the camp, he said he knew he was going to love it.

“It came natural to me,” he said. “The more time I spent in the kayak the more I started to love it. It was a lot of fun for me, so I knew I wanted to keep doing it. When I didn’t make the high school baseball team I was disappointed, I had always wanted to play baseball, but I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity if I would have made the team.”

Josh was so impressive at the camp, the coach from the local kayaking team asked him to come out to practice and work out with the other kayakers.

Every time Josh set foot in a kayak, he would get better and better from the previous time. He made the team and was set to start competing in live races for the first time.

In his first live race, Josh finished 13th overall, but by his second race, the Mustang sophomore finished third overall and earned his first medal.

Josh said he kept getting stronger with every race he competed.

“With every race, I just kept feeling more and more confident. I really have a lot of fun when I’m out there.”

The highlight of his young career is the first-place finish in the national championship race as Josh faced off against some of the best young kayakers from all over the nation.

Josh will race again in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he will compete in another national competition. This summer the MHS student will take his talents international for the first time in his life and participate against top talent around the world in Hungary.

“It is a great feeling to achieve something like this at such a young age,” Josh said. “It was really nerve-racking waiting to hear the final results because it was so close. When I found out, I couldn’t believe it.”

Josh’s goals in kayaking are lofty, but with hard work he said he knows he has a good chance to achieve great things.

“I want to compete in the Olympics,” he said. “Going from a small town like Mustang to the Olympics would be a great honor and a great achievement. I am most likely going to go to college at OCU (Oklahoma City University), so I can continue kayaking. They have a really good program, and it’s close to home.

“To be able to go to the Olympics and win an Olympic gold medal would be amazing.”