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Heady stuff for Liberty Bell's Hutchins

Tanner Cook • Updated Oct 5, 2017 at 9:38 PM

Jenna Hutchins’ 2017 cross country season has been nothing short of unbelievable.

As the Liberty Bell Middle School cross country team heads to Clarksville this weekend for the TMSAA state meet, Hutchins carries along with her an unblemished record on the season, going a perfect five-for-five.

Hutchins spent three years in Austin, Texas, before moving back to Johnson City. She was also a part of a United States soccer developmental team that traveled around south Texas and was highly talented in both sports at a young age.

“It was fun playing soccer for a while, but I really liked running. I’ve been doing it for a long time,” said Hutchins. “I enjoyed the team atmosphere and everything, but I just liked running a lot more.”

During the summer, Hutchins ran in the Crazy 8s Road Race in Kingsport and finished an incredible fourth place in 30:53 (6:13 pace) in the women’s division and 62nd overall out of over 2,000 runners.

The phenom is only 13 years old and is in eighth grade.

It is safe to say that Hutchins is the future of Science Hill girls cross country and maybe Northeast Tennessee in a short amount of time.

“When I’m running and I’m out front, I go at a sustained pace and just try to work on little things like form,” she said.

At the Bristol Cross meet earlier in the year, she ran a blazing 12:08 for the rolling two-mile course, which would be a respectable time on the track for a high school girl. She also set the course record for the middle school race.

At the sectional meet in Greeneville, she ran 13:18 over another tough course and won by a wide margin of 28 seconds.

The team has relished in having a true low stick, winning two of the five races as a team, second in two others and a third at the first meet of the year. These team wins included a win at the East sectional meet and qualifying for the state meet for a third consecutive year.

“When I go into high school next year, I would like to place top five and compete with the other good girls in the area,” she said. “Maybe by the time I’m a senior, I’ll be winning those races, too.”

Both the boys and girls teams will be going to Clarksville under the direction of Donna Wilkinson, who is in her 19th season of coaching cross country.

“Coach Wilkinson has been really helpful,” Hutchins said. “She’s been great at helping me with workouts and helping me with my form. … I think I can win on Saturday and I think both of our teams have a good shot at placing very high. It’s great that both teams made it so that we can cheer each other on.”

Three in a row

This marks the third year of the TMSAA-sanctioned meet, and LBMS runners have qualified each year. The girls’ and boys’ teams qualified in 2017 with first- and second- place finishes, respectively, in the East Sectional.

On the ladies’ side, Trinny Duncan has qualified for state the last three years — with Reagan Guess and Jordan McIntosh doing so for two.

As for the boys, John Carter and John Cheek have participated in the state meet for two consecutive years.

Coaches Wilkinson and David Nutter fielded 80 runners — including athletes from Indian Trail — this season.

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