Senior Spotlight: Tatiyana Jennings

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) Tatiyana Jennings has been a dynamic weapon on Meridian’s track and field team – and her 2019 stats prove it.

At last year’s state championships, she finished in second place in girl’s high jump for 6A with a personal best of 5'2". She also finished second in girl’s 300 meter hurdles at state with a time of 44.51.

Did we mention last season was her first time competing in hurdles?

“When I first started doing hurdles I said, ‘No coach. I’m not doing this!," Jennings explained. "But after a while I started practicing, focusing on it and doing extra practice to learn it because hurdles is more of a technique thing.”

Jennings didn’t want to just do well in hurdles, she wanted to be the best so she put in the work to try and be the best.

Track and field head coach Regonal Walker said Jennings would come to practice earlier than everyone or stay late after practice to try and get the technique of hurdling down.

“There were points where she would take a hurdle home with her, do it in the hallway, then record it and send it to me and say ‘did I do it right’ or ‘am I doing it correctly now?,'" Walker said. "That’s how committed she was."

Tatiyana did so well in hurdles after her junior season that she qualified for the 2019 Junior Olympics, getting to compete in the 400 meter hurdles in California.

“I saw different people from different states, countries and everything like that. I saw people from Connecticut, California, New York, New Jersey – just different people from different states," Jennings shared. "It was nice getting to compete against people not from our area."

With Jennings heading into her second year of doing hurdles, she set goals for herself her senior year she was determined to accomplish

“My 300 meter hurdles I was planning on running a 42," Jennings said. "At the state meet I was planning on breaking the school meet record and the all Mississippi state record which is 41. I was planning on breaking that at the state meet.”

With the MHSAA spring sports season cancelled by the coronavirus, Jennings won’t get the opportunity to try and break those records.

While her time on Meridian’s track and field team has come to an end, Tatiyana is fortunate to continuing pursuing track and field in college.

“Coaches are constantly texting and calling, keeping me updated and I’m keeping them updated, Jennings shared. "I can't say where...but I will be signing this Tuesday.”

While track and field is important to Jennings, she is also focused on other parts of her future.

“I’m going to major in biology and hopefully I’ll be able to go pro," Jennings said. "If it’s possible while I’m pro, since the Olympics are every four years, I want to go to graduate school so I can also become an orthodontist."

Coach Walker is excited for Jennings to continue on with track and field at the next level, but what he is most appreciative of is seeing her work towards earning a degree.

“I had a conversation with her that one day she is going to have to hang up her spikes and she has to have something else to turn to," Walker said. "I know that whatever field she pursues she’ll come back to Meridian and be a contributor. That’s what I really hang my hat on – the fact that they create avenues for themselves to come back and contribute here in our community.”