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Science Hill track sensation wins Gatorade athlete of the year

TANNER COOK • Jun 21, 2019 at 12:56 AM

The accolades keep on coming for Science Hill freshman sensation Jenna Hutchins.

It was announced on Thursday morning that Hutchins was the recipient of the Gatorade girls track athlete of the year award for Tennessee. She is the fourth Science Hill athlete to win the award and the first for girls track.

Hutchins had quite the decorated season on the track, winning state championships in the 800- and 1,600-meters and setting the state record for the one mile run at 4:43.33 in the Music City Distance Carnival at the end of May.

She joins former Hilltoppers Daniel Norris (2011, baseball), Lucas Altman (2016, boys soccer) and Todd Smalling (2005, boys cross country) as winners of the award.

HARD TO BEAT

It’s hard to go undefeated in any sport, but it is almost unheard of in track and field.

Hutchins nearly accomplished that feat in individual events over 800 meters this spring, losing only once — at the last race in the Brooks PR Invitational one mile in Seattle.

In the middle of the third lap, she tried to make a move on the outside to move into the lead pack, but got tripped up with another runner and fell. She did end up finishing the race in 16th, but her time of 4:57.64 was not what she was looking for.

Hutchins was known throughout the state as having one of the deadliest finishing sprints for a girls distance runner, and she used it when she needed to. In the 1,600 state finals, she sprinted past Dobyns-Bennett’s Sasha Neglia and won by less than one-tenth of a second.

Hutchins also finished the season with the best two mile of 10:25.01 in Tennessee and that also ranked fifth nationally.

Her state record shattered Rebecca Story’s two-year-old mark and ranked as the second-best time ever run by a freshman girl in the United States. The freshman national record still stands at 4:41.80.

OFF THE TRACK

Most people see Hutchins on the track and running through town or on the Tweetsie Trail and think that she runs all the time.

That is certainly not the case, as she volunteers regularly as a youth track coach and is a member of the theatre club at Science Hill.

During her freshman year, she maintained an “A” average in the classroom.

In winning the state award, Hutchins has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choice. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of her choice, which will be announced throughout the year.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Hutchins is now one of 50 finalists in contention for the national Gatorade girls track athlete of the year, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

She has the opportunity to join names like Olympians Lolo Jones (Roosevelt, Iowa) in 1997-98 and Allyson Felix (Los Angeles) in 2002-03 to garner the national award.

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