It is not difficult to find Jeremiah Bolanos on YouTube. Just Google him.

Boom. There’s the Redlands East Valley triple jumper, bounding down the runway with the Metro Boomin/Future/Chris Brown rap song “Superhero” playing in the background.

To wit:

“I get to stacking up, I’m untouchable

I get to represent, money multiple

I’m at the top of my charts, unapproachable.”

Bolanos, 18, explained his triple jump technique before a recent workout.

“First there’s the approach,” he said. “You have to sprint and build speed. Then you push off the board and try to get the most distance you can. It’s like you’re sky walking. Then you bound and jump into the pit, pulling your knees up to your chest to get the most distance you can.”

The track and field athlete excels, leading the state for more than a month this season with a jump of 47 feet, 6 inches. This weekend he competes in the CIF-State meet at Buchanan High in Clovis. How he arrived is incredible. It is a testament to his talent and the grit of his parents, Gerry and Esther, both immigrants.


There is a painting on the wall of the family’s split-level home in Redlands. On the left is the flag of Mexico from which Gerry hails; on the right is the flag of Kenya, Esther’s native land.

“I grew up in a village called Nyahuru with no running water and no electricity,” Esther said. “We were farmers, and it was a hard life. We relied on rain for food and if it didn’t rain, we experienced hunger. I remember my mom crying a lot, not knowing what she was going to feed us.”

Times were tough when Esther arrived in the United States as well.

She gave birth to Jeremiah at the age of 19, was not married, and had no place of her own.

“We were homeless for a number of years,” Esther said. “Living in my car — it sounds difficult, but it was part of my journey. I wasn’t willing to drop out of school and give up on my dreams of providing Jeremiah with a better future.”

So Esther huddled under a blanket in her little Honda, studied by the dome light, and washed in the sink of a nearby gas station.

Jeremiah stayed with his grandfather, Jose Bolanos, in Hemet at times. His mom studied nursing at East Los Angeles Community College and then at night school. Then a chance meeting with Gerry altered her life.

“We met near my school in Los Angeles in a CVS parking lot,” Esther said. “He was driving for FedEx, and he blocked me in, and I gave him a hard time about it.”

The memory made Jeremiah, seated in the family room with his parents, laugh. He has heard the tale before.

“I told myself that if you don’t talk to this girl, you’re going to regret it the rest of your life,” Gerry said.

The couple chatted and Esther told of her plight. The minutes melted away and soon Gerry had to leave. But first he obtained Esther’s phone number.

Thinking back, Gerry is amazed at Esther’s resolve.

“I could not believe the hardship she was facing and how her spirit was so high and how she was committed to being a nurse,” he said. “I was blown away by her personality — she was like nobody I had ever met before.”


Last week was sublime for Jeremiah Bolanos. On Monday, May 15, he attended the Ken Hubbs Award banquet where he was named Redlands East Valley’s best male athlete. Two days later, he committed to Cal, one of the nation’s finest public institutions. Two days after that, he qualified for the CIF-State championships, the pinnacle of California schoolboy track and field.

“I’ve been coaching 22 years and he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever had,” said David Parsons, who coaches Bolanos along with REV head coach Camille Andreas. “He’s very balanced, will graduate with a 4.0, and just loves to compete.”

Discipline is the key, the teen’s mom said. It was ingrained at a young age.

“A big part of how we raised Jeremiah is how we were raised,” Esther said. “The village raises the child. If I did something wrong in school, I’d get a whipping. In middle school if Jeremiah did something wrong his grandfather would say, ‘Don’t be so hard on him.’ I’d say, ‘Well, you were hard on me. That’s why I’m the woman I am today.’”


Years have passed and now Bolanos is a straight-A student. He rocks a Cal ballcap. And he is on the cusp of state track and field glory.

“I think he’ll do really well,” Andreas said. “He’s ready mentally. Committing to a college took a lot of pressure off him.”

A triple jumper for fewer than two full seasons, Bolanos is honed to a sharp edge by Andreas and Parsons. He regularly rises at 4:30 a.m. to lift with Parsons at a local gym and run a grass mountain at Caroline Park.

Bolanos cherishes the triple jump.

“It’s like a piece of art,” the REV senior said. “It’s poetry in motion and beautiful to watch.”

Watching Bolanos from the stands this weekend in Clovis will be his proud parents who have played such a pivotal role.

“He didn’t have the best start in life with a 19-year-old mom raising him,” Esther said. “But we’ve risen from the ashes. Seeing him go to Berkeley makes me want to cry, and I’m so proud to call him my son.”


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