BETHLEHEM, Pa.—The headlines in a local paper say it all.
“Steve Tutunjian: intense competitor, loyal teammate, inspiration to others.”
If Tutunjian isn’t the greatest track and field athlete to emerge from Lehigh University—at least in recent years—he’s certainly made quite a case for himself this season.
The Providence AYF record-holder went undefeated in the triple jump with a personal best of 50 feet, 4.5 inches, breaking a 30-year-old record in the event. Tutunjian also holds the Lehigh outdoor mark of 49 feet, 7.5 inches.
At the recent Patriot League Indoor Championships held at Bucknell University in Lewisville, the talented senior captain won both the long jump (23 feet, 3.5 inches) and the triple jump (48 feet, 3.5 inches). For his efforts, he was awarded a trophy as outstanding field athlete of the meet.
Tutunjian won the same award at the Outdoor League Championships last May. Two weeks later, he placed eighth in the long jump (22 feet, 9 inches) at the IC4A Championships and was named All-East.
The meet was held at Boston University and attended by more than 70 colleges. An ankle sprain prevented him from competing in the triple jump the following day.
Tutunjian finished this season ranked among the top 50 in the nation and fifth in the Mid-Atlantic region for the triple jump.
“Steve has been fully committed to the team ever since day one,” said teammate Steve Rumizen. “Even as a freshman, he took on the responsibility and placed in his first Patriot League Championship ever, demonstrating strong leadership and securing himself as a role model for the rest of his class.”
Tutunjian’s record-breaking mission was the result of hard work and dedication over a four-year span. He’s emerged as a fine student-athlete, leader, and athlete who rose to every occasion.
“Stephen was a great influence on our team,” said his coach Matt Utesch. “He brought a level of professionalism to practice that you don’t find in just any kid. He was at the top of the league in both the long jump and triple jump.”
Tutunjian spent the summer before his sophomore year completing workouts and training on his own. He returned to Lehigh in peak physical condition. After his sophomore year, it was clear that he would be in a position to break records and advance the track and field program.
His junior year was marked by repeated success, earning Most Valuable Athlete honors. This paved the way toward his senior campaign this year, with an outdoor season expected to calibrate new distances and honors.
The goals he set earlier are now being surpassed.
“I want to finish in the top of the league for both events and get to the second round of Nationals by placing in the top 12,” he said. “This would put me among the top 24 in the nation.”
Willing to put personal achievements aside, Tutunjian pays particular notice to his teammates. In that role as co-captain, he has found uncompromising success.
“I want the younger kids to pass me in all my events,” he said. “I wouldn’t be upset if someone broke my records. I want that to happen sooner rather than later.”
Two years ago, Tutunjian set the AYF Olympic field agog with a quantum leap measuring 22 feet, 1 inch, eclipsing a 52-year-old mark previously held by Leo Derderian. First to congratulate him was Derderian himself, who helped coach the star.
Tutunjian holds the AYF record in both the long and triple jumps, regularly adding the high jump victory to his repertoire. He and sister Lynne have been perennial high scorers for their Providence “Varantian” AYF team, hopefully competing this year in Boston.
His classroom accomplishments are also worthy of boast. Tutunjian is majoring in materials science and engineering with a 3.33 GPA last year, which qualified him for the Patriot League Track Academic Honor Roll. He is applying to graduate schools for next year.