Prep pulse: May 7, 2018

Prep pulse: May 7, 2018

Shajrianna Turner was in the midst of her sophomore year at Danville when she suffered what could have become a debilitating injury.

Turner was wrestling for the Vikings in December 2015 when, as she describes it, she was headbutted by an opponent on the mat.

Not only did Turner suffer a concussion, but nerves were damaged in her neck to the point where wrestling was out of the question without some recovery time.

"I had to go to therapy for a couple months," Turner said. "I was back and forth to hospitals. My dad had to take care of me, basically."

And yet, Turner signed a National Letter of Intent last week with McKendree University. She will compete for coach Sam Schmitz's women's program.

"I just wanted to wrestle so bad, so I just kept pushing through it," Turner said. "(Schmitz) cared about all the wrestlers, and their program seemed like it would be for me."

Turner did not suit up alongside younger brother Anthony Turner during Danville's most-recent season. Anthony qualified for the IHSA Class 2A state meet earlier this year and placed fourth at 132 pounds.

Shajrianna Turner, meanwhile, made an impression during the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls' state meet in March.

At the Springfield-based showcase, Turner secured a runner-up finish at 156 by knocking off two opponents via pin in less than one minute each.

It was a similar outcome to her result in the 2015 USA Weightlifting cadet women's freestyle nationals. At that contest, Turner grappled to fourth place at 143.

"There were people that were better than me, bigger than me, (and) stronger than me," Turner said of her experience beyond IHSA boundaries. "It taught me to keep pushing because you can beat anybody if you put your mind to it."

In a male-dominated sport — specifically at Illinois' prep level — Turner has carved out a path for herself despite a serious setback.

She may not have generated buzz like Oak Lawn's Mia Palumbo, who in February posted the first-ever IHSA state wrestling tournament win by a girl. But Turner is clearly a force to be reckoned with on the mat.