Yet despite some very obvious handicaps, the junior sprinter from Fannett-Metal will be trying to produce her best times of the season in three events and maybe sneak in a surprise medal if everything goes perfectly.
That would be a real feather in the cap for the Tigers' fledgling program, which is in only its second official year as a team.
This is a classic story of an underdog program, the little train that could. Veteran coach Mathern Mellott is the person driving the train and Turner is reaping the benefits.
"I just do the running and he does all the brainstorming," Turner said.
Fannett-Metal's track & field program does not receive any money from the school. It is entirely funded - about $6,000 a year - by parents and fund-raisers, and by Mellott himself.
"The simple fact is, if there is a shortfall, Mathern will cover it," F-M assistant coach Ed Sharpe said.
Turner has taken advantage of Mellott's contributions and considerable track knowledge and qualified for three events at states - she won the 100, 200 and 400 on May 16 at the District 5 Championships.
But there is a lot more to the story than that.
- Until this spring, Turner had never run competitively.
- The Tigers do not have a track on campus. So their practices are held on a field in front of the high school on grass.
- Turner has not really been pushed in dual meets and districts.
- She also lost her mother to cancer last November and is using running as a way to cope.
"In a way, running has helped get it out of my mind," Turner said. "My mom ran in high school and college, so I feel like she's still helping me out. I know I felt that way at districts."
At the District 5 meet, Turner won the 100 in 12.85, the 200 in 26.89 and the 400 in 59.95. All were personal bests except the 200.
For the PIAA meet, she is seeded 22nd in the 100, 33rd in the 200 and 19th in the 400 in Class AA.
Mellott said, "It's hard to say what she can do at states, but she really hasn't been challenged, especially in the 400. In the district final she was in the middle and made up the stagger by the first turn. Then she started to cruise and one girl started to catch up. So she put it in a different gear and won easily."
"She'll get a real awakening at states," Sharpe said. "She's never seen anything like this before. But expect all of her PR times to be better. Mathern thinks if she can get down to the low 58s in the 400, there's a chance she could place."
Turner said, "I'm not sure what to expect, but a really want to just get the experience."
The thing that makes it hardest to predict Turner's success is that, except for some weekend treks to the track at Mercersburg Academy, she practices on grass.
Sharpe said, "We have 400-meter 'track' spray-painted in the grass, but it goes under some trees and the roots stick up. And we have about 50 meters that go up a hill. We lined off the approach zones and exchange zones to practice relays. This week we mowed down a 100-meter run pretty tight so it might help Abby."
"There is definitely a big difference running on a track," Turner said. "It feels different on your feet and it's just so much nicer. You feel faster."
Mellott believes there is plenty of room for improvement.
"It's marvelous how well she's done," he said. "But she wasn't pushed at districts and she said she was just cruising. I told her that's a bad habit and she won't be able to do that this week. She has gotten faster each week, so I don't think she's peaked yet."
Turner has enjoyed having her freshman sister, Olivia, on the team.
"We hold each other's starting blocks," Abby said. "She has a lot more potential than me because she's got three years left."
Sharpe called Olivia "a natural hurdler. They are both gifted athletes."
Mellott said, "But Abby and Olivia are nice kids to coach, they're A students, they do their work in practice the right way and they're competitive."
At the one-day district meet, Abby Turner ran three finals, two trials and a relay.
"I was tired," she said. "I'd never run that many races in a day."
On Friday at states - held at Shippensburg University's Grove Stadium - she has 100 trials at 11:30 a.m., 400 trials at 1 p.m. and 200 trials at 4.
Mellott has helped another athlete with that kind of schedule. When he was coaching at McConnellsburg in the early 1970s, he helped sprinter Rick Hoffman do well.
Last year, the Tigers' Kenny White qualified for states in the 400 and the 4 by 400 relay team also made it to Shippensburg.
"What Mathern has achieved with all the disadvantages in resources is phenomenal," said Sharpe, who was coached by Mellott at McConnellsburg.
Mellott was out of education for 20 years, then assisted with the girls team at McConnellsburg in 1997. He came to teach sciences at Fannett-Metal and was the JV soccer coach, then agreed to help with the F-M kids who were competing independently in track. In 2004, only one boy competed.
Now in its second year as an official program, the Tigers had 35 athletes come out this spring. Mellott helped purchase equipment and uniforms early on, then he and the parents were able to buy the equipment from Scotland School when the school's assets were put up for sale.
Sharpe said, "We didn't have any kids in the jumping events at first because we had no equipment. But when we became official, we had to make sure we had somebody in those events."
The parents helped raise money to put up a building to store the equipment. Now it costs about $4,000 a year for transportation and another $2,000 for other fees.
Mellott said, "The valley (Path Valley area) has really rallied behind this program and has been very supportive. We only graduate one girl from this team, so we should be pretty good next year."
The way Sharpe sees it, that's all a credit to Mellott.
"He really makes a difference in coaching. He's worked with Abby on her starts in the 100 and it made a big difference in her times. The kids have to learn that if you do what he asks you to do in practices, he can tell you what kind of time you'll run. If a kid follows his teaching, that kid will have success."
Turner hopes to prove that this weekend.
Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EdGotwalsPO.