Another day and another state record for Science Hill junior runner Jenna Hutchins.
On a hot and humid Saturday in Oakville, Alabama at the 20th annual Chickasaw Invitational, Hutchins set the course ablaze — running 16:25.08 en route to a nearly two-minute win in the girls championship race.
Her time sets a new Tennessee state record for a girls cross country 5-kilometer course, eclipsing Kathy Kroeger’s previous record of 16:32.0 set at the 2006 Foot Locker South Regional in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This marks Hutchins’ fourth overall state record and second such performance in the last 30 days. She set the record for the outdoor track 3,200-meter run at the Music City Distance Carnival with a time of 9:49.83 back on Aug. 15, which set a national junior class record.
“I felt really good out there today,” Hutchins said. “I really didn’t know what to expect going into my first race of the season. I felt like if I had actually had someone there with me that I could’ve pushed harder.”
The time is also a new meet, venue and Alabama soil record. Hutchins is now part of an elite group of girls that has broken 16:30 in a high school cross country race.
She currently ranks sixth all-time and is this season's second-best time so far. She is only 19 seconds off Katelyn Tuohy’s national record of 16:06.87 from the 2018 Ocean State Invitational.
“This makes me feel great and it gives me a lot of confidence going forward,” she said. “I was on my own for the entire race and I really had to go off feel.
“The course was really nice. We started in an open field and it was kind of flat for the first mile or so — and once we got into the back of the course, there was a lot of shade.”
A rare local race for Hutchins is next on the docket. She will compete at the Fender’s Farm Cross Country Carnival in Jonesborough next Saturday.
The pancake flat course offers a perfect venue for fast times, but some of the turns may offer a bit of slow-down, if there is such a thing for the two-time Foot Locker All American.
“I am really excited about running down there,” she said. “It’s the first time I’ll get to run with the team this year. I ran that course in middle school (at Liberty Bell), but I’ve never run the 5K course.”
As for a possibility of challenging the national record, Hutchins hasn’t thought far ahead yet.
“Going into the race today, I had no time goal because I hadn’t ran cross country in so long,” she said. “The record isn’t something I’ve even thought about. I’ll have to re-evaluate my goals for the season now based on what I did today.”
The varsity girls race in Jonesborough next weekend is set to go off at 8:30 a.m.