May 6, 2011

Keeping It Close

By Kary McCafferty, UNH Athletic Media & Public Relations

Paul DeTurk (Durham, N.H,), a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, presents a soft-spoken demeanor when discussing his time throwing hammer for the track and field team. He looks over the indoor track with ease; it is a place he knows very well. After all, he's been competing here for over seven years.

Before attending UNH, DeTurk already had a great deal of experience using the university's track and field facilities. A native of Durham, he went through the Oyster River school system, which uses UNH's track and field setup as a home facility. Between Oyster River High School and UNH, DeTurk has found success through Durham track programs, including a first-place finish in the hammer throw at the America East Outdoor Championships last season.

Nevertheless, staying in Durham after high school was not DeTurk's first choice when selecting a college. Like many students embarking on a college career, he wanted to try something new.

"Originally, I tried to get away as far as I could," DeTurk said.

As a college freshman, DeTurk left his hometown to attend Carthage College in Wisconsin with the intention of playing volleyball. With mixed feelings about the location and his primary sport, he returned back to Durham one year later to enroll at UNH and concentrate on track and field, a decision that seems to have worked out for the better. Deturk is coming off three straight trips to the IC4A Outdoor Championships and qualified for the NCAA East Regionals in 2010.

However, much like his decision to return to Durham, DeTurk's future in track and field was not always outlined with a clear path to success.

"In middle school there was a cute girl on the team," said DeTurk, on his reasons for first joining the sport. "I was a pretty mediocre high school thrower."

According to 28th-year coach Jim Boulanger, DeTurk sat out his first year at UNH to improve his hammer throw, which has proved to be a worthwhile decision.

"Each year we have made steady progress," said Boulanger, who cites DeTurk's commitment as the main reason for his success. "He's been a great asset to the program."

Now in his third season competing with the team, DeTurk's commitment to success has more than paid off. He was named the America East Field Performer of the Week earlier this spring following a fifth-place finish in the hammer throw at the Sam Howell Invitational in Princeton, N.J. on April 1-2. DeTurk returned to the campus of Princeton University on April 23 for the Larry Ellis Invitational and this time placed second in the event with a season-best toss of 62.03m, good enough for first in the performance list heading into the America East Championships.

Despite the individual efforts that come with success in college athletics, DeTurk is quick to cite others for his improvements over the years, including the hard work of Boulanger and his teammates.

As for DeTurk's decision to return to his hometown, he is more than satisfied with the results.

"It's weird knowing everybody downtown," said DeTurk, with a smile emerging across his face. "But its fine."      

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