CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We are one week away from the high school state track and field meet, and one Flour Bluff senior will be making back-to-back state appearances. This year Bradford Jennings II is more experienced, and jumping with a purpose.
"Dunking and jumping. Just jumping in the air and just flying in the air, putting the ball in the hoop, jumping over a really tall bar, I don't know what it is about it," Jennings II said. "It just gets me like, 'Yeah, I just did that'."
Bradford Jennings has been jumping for greater heights since sixth grade, but he hit a rough spot his freshman, sophomore and beginning of his junior season. B.J. battled back last year finishing seventh at the UIL 5A state meet.
"Even then I knew I could do better, but I had to put in the work over the summer," Jennings II said. "Came back and then first day of practice (senior season) I jumped 6 feet 8 inches, and I was like yeah this is the year.">
Since then, the 6-foot-6 senior has high jumped a personal best 6 feet 10 inches multiple times this season. The fifth best mark in UIL 5A.
"To see my son shine the way he is right now, I think about the fact that his mother has a lot to do with it," Bradford Jennings, B.J's father said. "His mother has a lot to do with it because if she was here right now, oh she'd be his biggest fan."
Two years ago, in October 2021, the Jennings family lost a wife and mother, Dakarai Jennings. The 13-year Navy veteran died from a pulmonary aneurysm in the brain.
"When she passed away then it was like, it lit a fire under me," Jennings II said. "I was like put all these negative emotions and grief put it into what you love and what you do best, and just show out for your family. Make them proud."
Jennings jumps for his family, and as he prepares for his second trip to state he's focused on his goal.
"Just thinking about like what would make her happy and what would make her smile like that, so 7-foot and the win," Jennings II said. "Put on a performance and put on a show before I leave."
B.J. will compete at the UIL 5A state meet at the University of Texas in Austin next Friday. High jump starts at 9 a.m.