Meet Vernon Turner, "Mr. Jump Man"
YUKON, Okla. (KOKH) - Call him "Mr. Jump Man." 18-year-old Vernon Turner out of Yukon High School is a high jumping sensation, and he's only been at it for the last three years.
"He's got springs in his legs," said Vernon's mom, Melonie Turner. "I don't know where he got it from. We were at some awards ceremony and he was like mom, I got this skill from you. I'm 5'7."
Vernon is currently the top-ranked high jumper in the country and No.1 in the world under age 20.
"I knew I was good, but still, even at that point, I still don't think I'm that good," said Vernon.
Turner is referring to the 2016 Olympic Trials last summer. He qualified at age 17, where he was the youngest competing in the high jump at the University of Oregon.
"It was a whole completely different feeling jumping with all of them, and seeing those are the guys that actually go."
"Once he got out there on that stage and saw the people he was jumping against, world class athletes, I think it really sunk in," said Yukon strength and conditioning coach Justin Raper.
Even though Turner didn't perform as he would have liked, just being in that environment motivated him to work even harder.
"That was the first time I lost since sophomore year. So I was done after that. I was not losing again. So that's been my mindset since. I'm not going to lose again."
Turner has stayed true to his word.
He is the two-time defending state champion in the high jump and recently set a new National Federation of High Schools Record (7 feet, six inches), breaking the previous mark of 7-5 3/4 set back in 2009 by James White of Kansas City. While Vernon's proud of the accomplishment, his aim is even higher.
"I know I'm not done, is what I'm trying to say. But it feels good. Definitely."
Yukon high jump coach Kevin Ritter says competing in the Olympic trials was almost like his coming out party.
"I don't think him and his mother realized until we went to the trials, where we're going towards," said Ritter. I think that made a big difference.
Vernon, who will attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall, has his sights set on the 2020 Olympic Games.
"Tokyo is definitely one of the goals I want to have. But that's for sure, I want to redeem myself there."