Interview with Palmer Trinity School senior Brandon Pottinger after winning adidas Track Nationals title in the boys high jump this weekend in Virginia Beach, Virginia with a successful clearance at a new personal best height of 2.13 meters or 7 feet and 1 inch.
Pottinger is currently ranked among the top 3 nationally both indoors and outdoors in the event having already cleared 6'11.75" this spring as well in the active and ongoing outdoor season in Florida.
Photos by Mary Ann Magnant
While born in Miami, both of Pottinger's parents were born in Jamaica, so he has opted to compete in and for his parents' native country numerous times in the past including at Carifta Games in 2019 as a 15 year old finishing in 3rd place in the high jump and the NACAC U18 Championships in Costa Rica this past summer with a runner-up showing.
While most high school kids in Florida flocked to local beaches for their spring break, Pottinger traveled to Jamaica before his trip to Virginia for adidas Track Nationals to compete in the U20 team trials for the Carifta Games, which will be held in Jamaica this year on April 16th thru 18th.
His dad Marlon was a standout sprinter at the well recognized secondary school and track program in Kingston College. Anyone who has spectated or competed at a Penn Relays knows the name Kingston College for their annual presence and pedigree of athletes showcased at the event in Philadelphia every April.
Jamaica has been stereotyped as being one of the World's best talent pools for sprinters specifically and starting to get similar respect in the hurdles internationally at the professional level, but Pottinger is also hoping to change that view and represent the country as one of the best for the high jump someday at the next levels of the sport collegiately and professionally.
Speaking of the college level, on the same day that Pottinger won his first U.S. national title in the high jump, he also made his college decision. In a growing trend of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's) pulling in top prized recruits that in the past were being looked over compared to power 5 conference schools and in particular SEC and ACC schools in the Southeast region, Pottinger declared that he is signing with North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The HBCU in Carolina has already tapped into a pipeline of Florida talent including last year's class including the likes of Leonard Mustari, Lucheyona Weaver, Amanda Kinloch, and Markevus Jackson. In particular, Mustari made an immediate impact after an NCAA national indoor runner-up finish scoring eight big points as a freshman last week in the 60 meter hurdles for the Aggies as their squad nearly came away as the NCAA indoor track & field team champions behind only the University of Texas. Bringing in a 7'1" clearing high jumper such as Pottinger ranked among the top 3 to 5 high jumpers currently in the country will only bolster their program's diversity and range to score points at the NCAA Championship level.
Looking ahead to the outdoor season, Pottinger is hoping to help his team score enough points to compete for the 1A team title while also securing his 3rd straight state title in the high jump. Pottinger would have been a 4-time state champion after winning his first title as a freshman in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020 FHSAA season and state championship meet for everyone. He has added the long jump to his repertoire this season, while on the other hand being more specialized and rested for the high jump compared to past seasons when competing in more running events.
And looking up on the Florida high school all-time list in the high jump. The state record sits at 2.20 meters (7'2.50") and 8 others are tied for #2 all-time at 2.18 meters (7'1.75"). The current state record has stood the test of time lasting 30 years with many great high jumpers rolling through Florida over those three decades, while being held by one person in Sam Hill of New Smyrna Beach High School when he cleared 7'2.50" in 1992.
Both heights are difficult to reach, yet clearable for Pottinger given the opportunities that he will have to compete not only during the FHSAA sanctioned season but beyond representing Jamaica at the Carifta Games and hopefully at the IAAF World Athletics Championships this summer in Colombia (August 1st-6th) as well.
More Florida highlights to come from adidas Indoor Nationals. Check out results, race video replays, interviews, and photos from the meet below.