By Taylor Fortney
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
There’s no place like home.
That is what the Texas Tech Red Raider track team will be thinking in just under four weeks, when they host the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Lubbock, Texas.
Perhaps this statement rings true for no one more than West Texas native, and Texas Tech high jumper, Bradley Adkins. Adkins is from Idalou, Texas, less than 20 minutes from Lubbock, where the Red Raiders call home.
Adkins goes into the conference meet riding a wave of success that has propelled him to the top of the national rankings in the high jump.
“It has been a good year,” Adkins said. “Coach and I had a few things from the year before we had wanted to fix and adjust. We hit practice pretty hard this year and managed to fix a few of those things.”
The results have shown. After advancing to the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships as a freshman, Bradley soared to new heights in his sophomore campaign. Adkins finished fifth at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships, making him just the fifth Texas Tech athlete in school history to earn All-American status in the high jump.
“It has helped a lot,” Adkins said. “I’ve stuck to the system, and what he has been telling me. It has really come together, and I’ve started to put up some higher jumps, and hopefully just keep it going at this point.”
Adkins isn’t resting on his recent success. Despite clearing his outdoor career-best of 7-feet 3 inches and clearing an indoor school record with a jump of 7-feet, 3.75 inches at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, Adkins is looking to higher goals.
“Obviously I want to continue to have success, get some more All-American honors under my belt, and improve that school record,” Adkins said. “Maybe get up to those top collegiate spots. There is a couple 7’ 7” jumps up there, and I want to be one of those guys within these next couple of years.”
But Adkins sights aren’t set on just the collegiate level.
“I want to be one of those top guys in not just the NCAA,” Adkins said. “Having a chance to do something maybe on a bigger status, and maybe making a United States team or something along those lines. But obviously, I just want to continue this success and be the best high jumper that I can be.”
Adkins is well on his way to accomplishing that goal. Driven by a fire only competitors know, Adkins is satisfied with nothing short of first place.
“Being a competitor, your goal is never to get second,” Adkins said. “Being a competitor, I want to go out and win, whether that is competing in practice or a meet.”
And while the internal fire burns for Adkins, he points to teammate JaCorian Duffield for continued motivation. Adkins and Duffield own the indoor school record of 7’-3.75”, taking down a mark that stood for 30-years prior their stellar indoor campaign.
The two high jumpers went on to be the first duo from the same program to finish in the top-5 of the NCAA Indoor Championships in 15 years.
“We really push each other,” Adkins said. “We can make a competition out of just about anything you can think of, from acceleration to jumping in practice to non-track stuff. But we come to practice everyday and try to push each other and make each other better, and it has been a key part of our success.”
Each meet the two battle it out, consistently pushing the other to new heights, and always finishing on the podium together.
“In a sense of him maybe beating me, that just motivates me more to go and get better that next week,” Adkins said. “We can have a really good practice, go out to the next meet, and try to beat him the next time. It’s about being that tough competitor and never settling for less than the best. That is a big part of why we have been successful, because we aren’t complacent with second place. We try to battle out for first because no one wants to lose.”
The Texas Tech track and field program will continue with that mindset as they look forward to the 2014 Big 12 Outdoor Championships, hosted by the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders this year in Lubbock.
And for Adkins, a home meet is right where he wants to be.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Adkins said. “It is a huge honor to put on a Texas Tech uniform and compete in front of a huge home crowd and in front of my friends and family, and I am just so blessed to have that opportunity.”
While all Texas Tech athletes appreciate the home field advantage, it will be a particularly warm crowd for Adkins.
“I will be competing in pretty much my hometown,” Adkins said. “So my parents are going to be there, and we’re hoping to draw a pretty big crowd and just having the home field advantage. And that just motivates me that much more, to do something big in front of everyone I grew up with and around, and having them there to witness that. Hopefully I can turn in a big performance in front of everyone.”
Adkins will look to capitalize on the home field advantage May 16th-18th. When he does, he will be surrounded by friends and family that have supported him since his first meet.There really is no place like home.