Eli Turnage defies gravity.
The farther north the 11-year-old Oakdale resident and Hickman Charter School student travels, the higher he places in world-class BMX races.
Turnage was first and second in both races of the under-12 intermediate class across two days of action at the American Bicycle Association BMX Oregon Nationals on April 13 and 14.
The victories propelled Turnage up the ABA points ladder and paved the way for an expected appearance at ABA BMX Grand Nationals in Oklahoma in November.
The Oregon finish is the top moment in a brilliant young career for Oakdale’s two-wheeled frenzy. He was seventh and eighth at the Arizona National in March, and opened the year with a third and eighth place finish at the Reno National.
Turnage was a semifinalist at last year’s Grand National, where he beat out 60 other riders to reach the second stage of competition, but just missed a trip to the world finals.
It was an emotional ride for the youngster, who for the first time in his life, competed without the presence of his father and former BMX enthusiast, Jason Turnage, who lost a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Jason’s wife and Eli’s mother, Rachel Turnage, said Eli is scrambling to race in as many nationals as he can in 2013 in an effort to compete in his father’s honor.
Eli was present at the Spreckels Park BMX Park in July of 2012 to award scholarship money from the Jason Turnage Memorial Fund to seniors in the BMX racing community.
Eli, who accepted a sponsorship by Team Icee in 2009, raced in his first national the same year. This year, he plans to take on action at national events in Bakersfield, Utah, Las Vegas and Reno amidst the whirlwind tour to honor his late father.