When Hutchins won the Gatorade Tennessee Athlete of the Year in the spring for girls track and field, she had the opportunity to give a $1,000 grant to a local or national charity of her choice.
She decided to give the grant to Girls on the Run of Northeast Tennessee.
“I thought it’d be really special to give to a local charity. I know that they’re always a good organization to work with,” Hutchins said. “Girls on the Run wants to help inspire running and promote positive well-being with the girls. I’ve helped with some small events in the past, but I mostly just thought it would be good to give back to a local charity.
“They were very supportive and excited when they received the grant. They really enjoyed it.”
SEASON SO FAR
Hutchins came onto the scene strong last fall in her freshman campaign, and in 2019 it has been much more.
Her first race was at the Cherokee Classic in Knoxville where she won in a new meet record of 17:23. Her time — which outdistanced runner-up Landri Wilcox of Cookeville by 35 seconds — beat the previous meet record of Rebecca Story from 2016 by about a second and a half. She still stands behind Story’s course record of 17:15 also in 2016.
In the second race of the season at the Eye Opener Invitational in Spartanburg, S.C., Hutchins smashed the course record by 44 seconds that had stood since 2015. She won that race by 26 seconds.
In the two races so far this season, Hutchins has lowered her personal best twice already and ranks 10th nationally — currently leading the state of Tennessee.
“The season has started well. I was a little nervous the first race, but that always happens,” she said. “I felt a lot better in the second race, though. Breaking the course record is never my objective going in, but it shows that I’m on track for some good things.”
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Hutchins will go west for her next cross country venture as she will participate in the Nike Desert Twilight XC Festival in Casa Grande, Ariz. She will face a national field comprised of teams from California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and many other states.
She will also get her version of “Friday Night Lights” as she is entered in the sweepstakes race that goes off at 9 p.m. local time Friday. There will be live results, but there is currently no live stream scheduled.
“I had heard that it was a really fast course and it worked well with the team schedule,” she said. “I’m really excited to get to run with national competition on a really fast course. The atmosphere is going to be great because it’s at night and I always have liked racing at night. … I don’t have any set goals, but since I will be going up against national competition, I’ll just try to go with them.”
Another course record for Hutchins at the Cedarcrest Golf Course will be a tall task as current University of Washington All-American Katie Rainsberger holds the best mark at a smoking-fast 16:23.4 that has stood since 2015.
The 10th fastest mark in meet history is 17:21.5 and 10th best on the course is 17:14.8. The course also serves as the host for the Nike Southwest regional qualifier later in the season.
Hutchins already stands at fifth fastest all-time in Tennessee for a girls cross country 5K, but she can crack the top three if she is able to break 17 minutes.
The state record was set in 2006 by Kathy Kroeger of Independence at 16:32.