Jenna Hutchins is not only one of the most decorated athletes to ever come through Science Hill, but in the area as a whole.
Her long list of accomplishments could take up an entire magazine and she can now add one more to her scrap book.
On Friday, the junior standout distance runner was chosen as the seventh annual winner of the Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News high school female athlete of the year.
“For Jenna to be named the recipient of this award just speaks to her performance and dedication to what she does,” Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner said. “She has set an unbelievable example for everyone else in this area.”
Said Science Hill track coach Anthony Jones: “Jenna is very unique with her abilities. For her to step out of a high level of youth soccer and try the sport of track and cross country was not too much of a stretch. She instantly saw success and that speaks to the kind of talent and work ethic that she has.
“Considering the times she put up that led the state and were amongst the tops in the country, and she was dealing with a lower back issue, was remarkable.”
Hutchins won her second TSSAA Large Schools individual cross country title at Sanders Ferry Park in Hendersonville in a 5-kilometer time of 16:30.84. She sped out to an early lead and blew away the field, winning the race by 95 seconds.
Her individual title capped off one of the most historic runs in high school cross country history as she broke 17 minutes in six of the seven races she ran. During that process, she became the first prep to break 16 minutes on a 5K cross country course.
“Winning the state title again was one of her goals and it’s always nice for someone to win a state championship in anything,” Turner said.
“Every time that she steps on the line to run, she has a specific goal in mind whether it’s to win, set a record or whatever. That’s complete focus and that’s being bought in,” Jones said.
In her abbreviated track season, Hutchins put up nation-leading times in both the 1,600 (4:44.13) and 3,200 meters (9:52.33) before being sidelined due to injury.
She also reset her own school record in the 800, turning the two-lap race in 2:13.65 in front of her home crowd at the Tri-Cities Track Classic.
“I watched her run that race and to be honest, it really didn’t surprise me at all because I know how hard she trains,” Turner said. “It’s still unbelievable to think that someone from around here did something like that.”
Hutchins is committed to Brigham Young University — the defending NCAA Division I women’s cross country team national champion — and plans to graduate in December in order to ready herself for the collegiate running scene.
Hutchins recently picked up her second Gatorade state “Player of the Year” award in cross country, bringing her total count to four.
She has made rounds in all of the major global running publications like Track & Field News, Runner’s World and even graced the cover of Youth Runner magazine
“When she started talking to me about where she wanted to go, I told her to keep focused on two thing — academics and which place was going to feel like home,” Jones said. “She’s obviously in good hands whenever she goes out there because there are so many others that are gravitating towards the program.”
Added Turner: “I still think the best is yet to come for her.”