Feature Friday: Texas A&M-Kingsville Senior Jeron Robinson Keeps Reaching New Heights
Here are two statements about Jeron Robinson: One is absolute truth, like Mother Teresa testifying in court; the other is up for debate.
Jeron Robinson is the best high jumper in NCAA Division II history.
Jeron Robinson is the best high jumper in collegiate track & field right now.
Take a look at the facts and decide which is which.
Robinson, a senior at Texas A&M-Kingsville, owns three of the four best clearances in DII history outdoors, including the division record at 2.31 meters (7 feet, 7 inches).
Indoors, Robinson is tied for second on the all-time DII chart (2.29m/7-6) — just one centimeter behind Jim Dilling’s standard. Dilling, impressive in his own right, took home four DII titles between 2004 and 2007 at Minnesota State and now runs his alma mater’s program.
Here’s where Robinson puts considerable distance between himself and Dilling: Robinson has won five DII titles (three outdoor, two indoor) and if he captures a sixth at the end of May in Bradenton, Florida, he’d become the first man in NCAA history to earn four consecutive outdoor high jump crowns.
There is very little reason to doubt that Robinson won’t end his collegiate career in historic fashion. Not only is he the overwhelming DII favorite, but he is also tied for the overall collegiate lead with reigning NCAA DI indoor champion Trey Culver of Texas Tech and NJCAA titlist Jah-Nhai Perinchief of Iowa Central. In fact, Robinson has shared the top mark among all collegians at the end of the outdoor season in each of the past two years.
Earlier this month, Robinson went up against Culver, Culver’s teammate Bradley Adkins and Charlotte’s Trey McRae — who has the fourth best mark of the season — at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays and won. Robinson owned the tie-breaker over the runner-up Culver by virtue of his clean sheet at 2.23m (7-3¾).
“What motivated me was getting that watch (given to elite winners) and beating those DI guys,” Robinson said. “I like being at a DII school, because you come in as the underdog no matter what and it pushes you to go bigger. The crowd was amazing, too. I love jumping in front of big crowds.”
Robinson is by no means a stranger to eye-opening victories at the Texas Relays. As a senior at Fort Bend-Travis in the Houston area, Robinson destroyed a talented field of prep standouts by six inches (7-2 to 6-8) in 2010.
Several smaller DI programs extended offers to the 6-foot-3 Robinson, but the lure of possibly reuniting with his first love (football) beckoned him to Kingsville. Robinson never played a down for the Javelinas, though.
Instead, Robinson focused his attention on a sport he only picked up as a freshman in high school after a coach saw him dunking in the gym and recommended he try high jumping because he had “serious bounce.”
Robinson competed once as an unattached athlete in what should have been his freshman year (2011) and won the Incarnate Word Invitational. Yet Robinson didn’t officially rep the Javelinas’ blue and gold until two years later.
“I was working on getting myself together with school as well as getting myself stronger for the return of me being a college athlete,” Robinson said. “I knew that I could be the best, so that is what motivated me to handle business and get on the track team. Once I got on the team, I told myself that I would take over.”
Fast forward to the present and that’s exactly what Robinson has done with five NCAA titles and one division record to his name that he wants to improve. Robinson, who turns 25 on April 30, said he’d like to clear 7-8, which would also put him seventh on the all-time collegiate chart.
A simple change to his approach — giving him a gradual 13-foot curve, rather than the pick-a-point-and-jump style he used in high school — paid dividends and gave Robinsion the correct tools to tap his record-breaking potential.
“You don’t see too many guys with his ability come along too often,” Texas A&M-Kingsville coach Ryan Dall said. “We just had to shore him up technically and put him in a better position to take off with some more speed. The rest was Jeron being Jeron.”
So what’s next for Robinson?
Well, if the season progresses how we wants it to, Robinson would listen to "I Don’t Get Tired" by Kevin Gates before four more competitions and stand atop four more podiums.
The first would be in Stephenville, Texas after the Lone State Conference Championships.
The second would be in Bradenton, Florida where he’d make NCAA history.
The third would be in Eugene, Oregon at the U.S. Olympic Trials. And it would be bittersweet for Robinson, since he finished a heartbreaking fourth last year at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
The fourth? Rio, as the National Anthem plays in the background.
"If I go, I’m not going to go and not win," Robinson said. "I’ll tell you this: It’s a different thing when I get on the track. I’m usually a chill guy, but I turn into this animal. I’m not afraid of anybody."