FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- JaCorian Duffield and Bradley Adkins compete in everything they do.
The Texas Tech high jumpers are always trying to one-up the other. It doesn't matter whether it’s video games, lifting weights or soaring over the high jump bar.Since they were prep athletes in Texas, the two have had a longstanding, friendly rivalry fueled by a desire to beat the other. So it was no surprise that they were the final two competitors standing on Saturday at the DI NCAA Indoor Championship.
It was also fitting that they both cleared personal-bests at 7 feet, 6 inches (2.29m). Duffield was declared the winner on fewer misses. He cleared the height on his second jump, and about 30 seconds later, Adkins soared over the bar and leaped off the mat. The two embraced, congratulating the other.
“We try to push each other every day, trying to make each other better,” Adkins said. “I knew when he cleared it, I had to clear it, too. I couldn’t let him go to the next bar without me.”
Both jumpers failed on all three attempts at 2.32, but a lengthy delay due to a timing issue with DJ Smith of Auburn in the event might have impacted their attempts.
“I’d just cleared 7-6 and I was ready to go, then I had to sit there for about 15 minutes,” Adkins said. “I kind of got frustrated by it because I was ready to go. But you can’t let things like that distract you. You just gotta do what you do.”
Duffield, who placed fifth last season in the NCAA indoors, said he just tried to stay focused during the lengthy delay.
Texas Tech coach James Thomas said Saturday’s competition was no different than what the two jumpers do every day.
“Their preparation coming in is like their preparation in practice,” he said. “They just battle. It makes me look good as a coach. Those guys challenge each other every day and they hate to lose to the other.”
Duffield and Adkins first went head-to-head in the Texas state track and field championships when Duffield was a senior at San Antonio Randolph and Adkins was a junior at Idalou.
“We both jumped 7 feet, and I beat him on misses,” Duffield said. “We’ve been competitive ever since then. He definitely pushes me and he pushed me today to clear that bar.”
Adkins said that Thomas is the perpetrator for epic trash talk between the two. Thomas did not deny that as being part of his coaching strategy.
“I’m the king of trash talk, so I implement that as part of our training,” Thomas joked. “You can’t go out there thinking the other person has the edge on you.”
Duffield, the Big 12 Conference indoor champion, said a disappointing performance at the Randal Tyson Track Center during the Tyson Invitational gave him additional motivation on his return to the Arkansas facility.
“I kind of struggled a little bit at Tyson,” Duffield said, “but to come back here and tackle the monster that beat me was definitely great.”
Now the two West Texas high fliers will turn their attention to the outdoors season, where Adkins, the Big 12 champion last season outdoors, has already started the friendly trash talk.
Asked who will win the outdoors, Adkins gave himself the nod.
“I let him win this one because he’s a senior,” Adkins said. “I’ll take the next one from him. I have to.”