HENDERSONVILLE — Being the best at anything certainly adds a little bit of pressure to perform on the biggest stage.
On Thursday — one day after being named the nation’s new No. 1 girls cross country runner according to US Milesplit — Science Hill junior Jenna Hutchins showed why she earned the right to be called the best.
Hutchins blazed the new state meet course at Sanders Ferry Park in the Large Class girls race in an eye-popping 16:30.8, winning the race by one minute and 35 seconds. Her time also set a new record on Tennessee soil, breaking her own mark from Fender’s Farm earlier this season.
Her 5-kilometer time over the rolling hills of the mid state also set a new venue record. Cookeville’s Landri Wilcox was second in 18:05.2.
The No. 1 ranking had no effect on Hutchins.
“That was no added pressure because I take those Milesplit rankings with a grain of salt. They’re constantly changing,” Hutchins said. “I’m just out here to have fun and being able to run in general this year is such a blessing.
“I loved this new course and I wish they would have it here every year... I was coming out here trying to get some redemption from last year being sick and running for my team.”
She would have barely missed being in the top 15 in the boys race. Thursday marks the fifth time this season that Hutchins has posted a sub-17 time, which is tied for the most nationally.
She broke Kathy Kroeger’s previous state meet record by 29 seconds.
Tennessee High sophomore Zoe Arrington had been running in second place for most of the race, but ended up in eighth and recorded a final time of 18:24.3.
Daniel Boone’s Kamryn Wingfield also garnered all-state honors, finishing in 14th. She broke the school record by over 30 seconds, running 18:50.8.
In the team race, region champion David Crockett had a good day, finishing sixth with 186 points. Sophomore Breanna Dunn led the way in 38th (19:56.9) closely followed by teammate Rachel Dulaney in 39th (19:57.0).
Dobyns-Bennett sophomore Autumn Headrick was competing as an individual and finished 35th (19:53.0).
Brentwood took a close team race with 101 points, outdistancing Farragut (112). The Lady Trailblazers finished in ninth (227) while Science Hill tallied 274, good for 12th.
Other notables in the top 50 include David Crockett’s Emily Ward (43rd in 19:58.9) and Hannah McLain (49th in 20:05.8). Daniel Boone’s Patricia Chellah was 44th in 19:59.8.
JOINING AN ELITE FRATERNITY
Hutchins joins an elite fraternity of girls from Region 1 to win multiple state individual titles as she claimed her second on Thursday to go along with 2018.
Sullivan South’s Leslie Whitehead (1982-84), Sullivan Central’s Angie Culbertson (1989, 1990), Science Hill’s Whitney Spannuth (1991, 1992), Dobyns-Bennett’s Carla McCready (1993-95) and Sasha Neglia (2016, 2017, 2019) are the others to accomplish the feat.
“Region 1 in my opinion is one of the hardest to qualify out of,” Hutchins said. “It really says a lot about how many girls from our region are able to dominate at region and at state. It’s an honor to be added to that list.”
SANDERS’ BIG DAY
Sullivan Central senior Mason Sanders has been playing second fiddle all year, but he finally got the lead role on Thursday.
Sanders was the top performer from Region 1, traversing the course in 16:15.9, good for 12th and all-state honors. He beat out Daniel Boone’s Conner Wingfield — who finished all-state as well (15th in 16:23.7) — for the first time this season.
“I was actually kind of sad that I didn’t break 16, but this is a tough race,” Sanders said. “The start was the toughest part because you had to get out quick and it bottlenecks.
“A few guys came out of nowhere in the last bit there and passed me. I think two or three passed me and I passed one of them back. I’ve been trying my best all year to do what I can and it feels good to send out Central like this.”
The region champion Trailblazers finished in seventh, tallying 201 points. Dobyns-Bennett finished in 17th (468) while Sullivan East was 18th (476).
Other notables in the top 50 included Daniel Boone’s Levi Streeval in 20th (16:36.0) and Bryson Lewis in 39th (16:59.4). David Crockett’s Bryson Livesay was 35th overall in 16:54.6.
Lebanon senior Aiden Britt came on strong in the final half-mile of the race to take the individual win in 15:29.6. Hardin Valley won the team title in a landslide with 33 points, beating out runner-up Franklin at 101. The Hawks placed all of their scoring five inside the top 15.
In the girls race, Signal Mountain easily won its fourth consecutive team title with 37 points, beating out Merrol Hyde Magnet (156). Happy Valley finished in 20th, tallying 505 points.
Fairview senior Alyssa Andrea won as expected with a time of 20:04.6. The top finisher from Region 1 was Washburn’s Emery Coffey, crossing the line in 23rd and running 22:30.4.
In the boys’ race, Chuckey-Doak’s Irving Medina navigated his way around the course in 16:35.8 to finish fourth. West Greene’s Chandler Dalton was also a Region 1 all-state finisher, garnering 13th and running 17:18.5.
University High freshman Braden Williams ran well and finished 25th in 18:12.2.
Signal Mountain easily defended its state title, scoring 60 points and was far ahead of second place Merrol Hyde (132). University High finished in 12th with 320 points.
Camden Central’s Will Douglas pulled away late to win the individual title in 16:01.7.