There are many elements important to making a school subject not only interesting to the students taking it but also giving them something they can use in their lives.

It is no wonder, then, that Westminster junior cross county, basketball and track standout Naima Turbes enjoys biology as much this year as she did chemistry as a sophomore.

“I love biology because there are so many things you learn from that subject which I can use in running cross country or track. For example, we are studying lactic acid which is related to how well you run, so it all fits together,” said Turbes, who finished second individually in the state in the Class AAA cross country meet Nov. 3 and 4, leading the Lady Wildcats to their 29th team title in school history.

The daughter of Michael and Ashani Turbes is also the defending AAA track champ in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. She said she has always enjoyed distance running, especially with her Lady Wildcat teammates, a squad she called a “sisterhood.”

“Cross country is really special because running makes the bond between us stronger, and that bond is something you will always look back on with pride,” Turbes said. “Each day you get to bond with girls that you may have never met or even got to know, if it were not for the love we have for cross country or track or both.”

However, cross county head coach Amy Eubanks said Turbes brings much more to the team than her speed and athleticism.

“Although she broke the school record in a time of 17 minutes, 27 seconds in the 5K, her positive impact on the team is felt far beyond her performance,” the coach said. “She inspires and motivates her teammates to excel through her selflessness acts of kindness. For example, after finishing her workouts or races, she cheers and encourages everyone on our team until the last runner finishes.”

Despite finishing second in the state cross country meet this year with a time of 20:12, which she said was the result of her having a “bad day” on the course, Turbes said it has given her the incentive to not only win the individual cross county state title next year but also help her team take the state crown as a unit.

As to her philosophy of long-distance running, Turbes said one has to enjoy it, which she does, as well as excel in it.

“I very much enjoy competing in track as well as cross country. But if you enjoy what you are doing, like I do running in both these sports, you always not only want to be the very best you can be at something you love, but you always want to improve and keep setting the bar higher,” she said.

In addition to the bond that exists among Turbes and her teammates, she said running also helps her escape from her school studies for a while.

“Running has a positive influence on all facets of my life, in or out of school,” she said, “primarily because of the positive effect it has on me, especially in knowing I have done the best I can and that always makes me feel good about myself.”

Asked to describe herself in one word, Turbes said, without hesitation, “passionate.”

“It goes back to enjoying what you are doing because, as I said before, if you enjoy doing something, like I do running, you want to excel in it.”

Being the defending AAA track champion in two long-distance runs for Westminster, Turbes knows opponents will want to take those titles from her. But she feels she is up to the challenge.

“No matter what the sport, if you are facing good competition, that challenge alone will drive you to take that extra step to push yourself to reach higher and higher goals,” she said. “However, the one thing you don’t want to do against tough opponents, or any opponent for that matter, is to make mistakes that hurt your performance, which goes double if you are a state champion.

“You don’t want to become your own worst enemy and shoot yourself in the foot by making careless mistakes.”

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