When it comes to running the full course, few runners in Bartlesville High School history have done it better than Bret Turowski.
The former Bruin student-athlete and University of Tulsa pacer has channeled his energy into trying to make a difference in the classroom and in cleats for the current generation of Bartlesville pupils.
“When I was getting out of high school, at first I thought I wanted to study for a youth ministry,” at Oklahoma Baptist University, Turowski said.
But, he switched his college address to the University of Tulsa and his future focus to teaching full-time.
“I like getting to know the kids pretty good,” he said. “I try to be reasonable on grading and stuff. I believe in treating them good. It can be an adventure to teach. But, I like kids. They’re funny.”
Turowski classroom specialities are geometry, math and finance and current events.
“I probably like math and finance the best,” he said. “Kids can relate to money.”
In not too many years they’ll be dealing with credit card balances, downpayment on houses and insurance issues, he noted.
“We can have quite a bit of fun with the subject,” he added.
Not surprisingly, Turowski also gravitated to coaching, specifically cross country and track, in which he works as an assistant for both.
He works primarily with the boys’ team in cross country and boys and girls distance runners in track.
“I think the main thing is them having fun,” he said.
The other keys are developing camaraderie, working hard and performing the best they can.
For Turowski, that was pretty darn good.
As a senior in the fall of 2003, Turowski burst to fourth place in the state cross-country meet with a blistering time of 16:16. He led Bartlesville to sixth place, a really fine showing back then for the Bruins.
As a sophomore (2001), Turowski had bolted to ninth place (16:27).
In track, Turowski rocketed to the state Class 6A championship in 2004 in the 3200m (9:23.93) and second in the 1600m (4:17.88). His time in the 3200 was the fastest — by 21 seconds — among the champions of all classes.
Turowski proved he could get it done on the college level, as well. In September 2006, the Conference USA named him the men’s cross country Athlete of the Week after he finished second (20:26) in the Hurricane Cross Country Festival four-mile race.
His college career running resume included: Being a 10-time letter winner and five-time all-conference selection. As a junior, he garnered First-Team All-C-USA in cross country and came in Second-Team All-C-USA honors in both track and outdoor track. He also earned a spot as a C-USA All-Academic achiever.
Turowski was all about challenging to be the best as an athlete.
As a coach, he said he realizes student-athletes are motivated by different things.
“Some … really want to win,” he said. “Some are really wanting to get into shape for soccer, although they do want to do better and do the best they can. We have guys who want to have fun being with their buddies on the team. You need those guys to keep the culture light.”
As he looks back on his development as an athlete and a person, he gives a lot of credit to Rod Starr for being an important role model and friend.
“He was my P.E. teacher,” Turowski said. “He started training me in track in fourth grade. He came to become a good buddy and pretty good friend. We ran a lot together.”
As far as what he brings to his athletes and classroom students, Turowski hopes to be a positive influence.
“I hope they had a good time,” he said. “I hope they can look back at our time together and have a good memory. I still see some of my former students show up at the track meet.”
Overall, Turowski is grateful.
“I just thank God for a teaching job, which is a good-paying job with good benefits,” he said. “Probably one of my favorite things about teaching is to change up jobs in the summer. I like to try different things.”
Whatever he does, Turowski is likely to give it his all — to the sprint at the finish line.