By Dave Ongie, News Editor
On the heels of a phenomenal freshman season, Science Hill’s Jenna Hutchins was named the Gatorade Tennessee Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year last week.
Hutchins became the fourth Hilltopper to receive the Gatorade State Athlete of the Year honor, joining Todd Smalling (cross country), Daniel Norris (baseball) and Lucas Altman (soccer).
“I was really honored to receive the award and represent Science Hill,” Hutchins said. “It’s crazy to think that so much has gone by in one year.”
Indeed, a year ago at this time Hutchins was a rising freshman who was just weeks away from a historic victory in the iconic Crazy 8s Road Race in Kingsport. By winning the 8K race, Hutchins became the youngest winner in the event’s history.
That victory was a prelude to a freshman year that included an individual state championship in cross country and two state championships in track during the 800-meter and 1600-meter competitions. She also scored a ninth-place finish in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships last December, earning her all-American honors.
As if that weren’t enough, Hutchins set a state record in the mile at the Music City Carnival with a time of 4:43.33, which ranked No. 9 in the nation among prep competitors at the time of her selection. Hutchins also ranked No. 9 nationally in the 2-mile run (10:25.01) and No. 84 in the 1,600 (4:53.75).
Despite her many accomplishments in track and cross country, Hutchins is not consumed by running. Hutchins is a member of the Theatre Club at Science Hill and has volunteered locally as a youth track coach, all while maintaining an A average in the classroom.
“I think you also have to have balance,” Hutchins said. “I like volunteering at the library and at little track meets for State of Franklin Track Club. I think doing everything – working hard, staying consistent and then also having that balance – I think that is really key.
“I think if you focused all your time on (running), I think it would be easy to get burned out or at least not enjoy it as much. Running is one of my favorite things to do, so I just want to keep it enjoyable and fun.”
Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner said Hutchins is a shining example of what it means to be a true student-athlete.
“Science Hill is not only proud of Jenna for her athletic accomplishments, but also for being an outstanding student and person,” Turner said. “She always handles herself with class and she is a wonderful example of how athletes should carry themselves on and off the field of competition. This honor is a great example what one can accomplish when they have total dedication and do things the right way. We are so proud of Jenna as a student-athlete.”
As a part of Gatorade’s marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Hutchins also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. Hutchins said she has given a lot of thought to what to do with the money and is likely to contribute it to Girls on the Run, an organization that helps girls in third through eighth grade get involved in running.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.Gatorade.com/POY.