An improbable path
La PORTE — Just three short years ago, this wasn’t a realistic outcome for Riley Tuerff.
The La Porte senior track and field athlete never thought she’d be in this position. That’s because, amazingly, Tuerff didn’t even hurdle until she was in high school.
Nevertheless, she parlayed her remarkable prep success into a college opportunity, as she recently signed with Indiana State University.
“I didn’t think I would be where I am today,” Tuerff said. “Not at all. I didn’t even think I was going to hurdle. I probably thought I was just going to sprint and that was going to be it. I’m so thankful I hurdled more. Because I did middle school track, but not really hurdling. But then, I just knew, I just love it. I love hurdling, so I’m going to give it a shot and it happened. And I fell in love.”
Tuerff chose the Sycamores over Grand Valley State, Ball State and Indiana, and said she primarily picked Indiana State because she had a quality visit to the school and she was struck by its close-knit family atmosphere.
“When I got home, I kept thinking about my visit,” Tuerff said. “And I just loved how welcoming the team and the coaches were. They were all so happy and they just truly enjoyed what they did. And they were so nice and welcoming and friendly. I just knew I really wanted to be on a team like that.”
She added the proximity of Indiana State to La Porte factored greatly into her decision as well.
Last track season, Tuerff thrived for the Slicers. She captured first in both the 100-meter hurdles (15.35) and 300-meter hurdles (47.08) in the Chesterton Sectional. She immensely aided La Porte’s third-place sectional showing (125 points).
In the Portage Regional, Tuerff placed second in the 300 hurdles (46.56) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (14.95), advancing to state in each event. She was pivotal in her team’s third-place regional finish (60.60).
At the state finals, Tuerff missed a state medal by a mere one-100th of a second, tallying 10th in the 100 hurdles (14.90). The top nine finishers in each event garnered state medals. Also at state, she posted 12th in the 300 hurdles (45.56), missing a state medal by just under a half second. In addition, Tuerff helped the Slicers’ 4 x 100 relay team finish 13th by clocking 49.43.
“Her biggest thing is she’s just a competitor,” La Porte girls track coach Corbin Slater said. “She’s always been a competitor. She’s always been such a hard worker. She’s very meticulous in her pursuits. She’s always questioning. She’s always wondering what’s the best way to do something. She’s pretty unwavering in that way.”
Tuerff wants to be a doctor in Sports Medicine/Orthopedics, so she’ll likely have to major in Biology or Pre-Medicine at Indiana State. She said it would be great if she could major in Exercise Science, but added there isn’t much you can do after four years, saying you can’t go to Medical School for that major.
“I want to be around sports as much as I can,” Tuerff added.
Besides being an exceptional track athlete, Tuerff carries an impressive 4.0 grade point average, while at the same time taking advanced placement and dual-credit classes. Right now, she takes AP Psychology and AP Calculus.
“School always comes first, always,” Tuerff said. “I want to be perfect. I want to reach my goals in that. I want to always get As.”
Even though she has one more season competing in track for the Slicers, Tuerff reflected on her prep career so far.
“What I’m going to mostly remember is having all of my coaches support me as much as they did,” Tuerff said. “And having my teammates support me as much as they did. And my family. Just having that foundation of people, your support system, it’s fantastic. It really boosts confidence and makes me work harder every single day.”