One would think attempting to leap over a horizontal pole with a height comparable to Shaquille O’Neal while maintaining composure and flexibility would be a daunting task — but not for everyone.

Michigan track and field redshirt sophomore Bradley James has proven to be a valuable asset for this year’s team. The high jumper — a motivated student on and off the field — is out to prove that he is a threat to other Big Ten competitors. Above all, however, his passion for the jump is unequivocal.

“It’s kind of like flying,” James said. “It may not be as high as the pole vault, but clearing that bar is just an amazing feeling.”

At his college track debut in early January, James succeeded in not only placing first in his event, but also clearing the high jump with a mark of 7.5 feet. Clearing seven feet had not been accomplished since 2008 by Michigan’s own John Kipf.

But it’s not just about getting a high mark on the results page at a single meet, however. Michigan coach Mohammad Saatara — the fields coach of the team — emphasizes that high jumping is really about consistency.

“We want to increase (James’s) performance gently over time,” Saatara said. “Stable performance is critical. We want him to compete at a high level in any conditions.”

This past weekend at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, he earned a high mark of seven feet and one-fourth inches, thus far proving to stay consistent over that seven-foot mark.

With a goal of competing in the Big Ten Championships, the Wolverines have an exciting season ahead of them, and they have been training hard to get ready for the upcoming invitationals to come later this spring.

“We have a lot of expectations to get to a high level with James,” Sataara said. “Our goal is to compete on a high level in Big Ten. He’s very motivated.”

James does have a weakness on the gym floor. He reveals that his greatest fault is letting outside forces affect his mental state right before a jump. In “The Dual” against Ohio State, James admits that the floor surface had affected his jumping.

“I let it affect me,” James said. “I just have to learn to control the controllable and stay focused.”

The sky is really the limit for this high jumper, and he’ll compete as a part of the collaborative track and field team at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend on Feb. 4.

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