The Liberty Bell Middle School Cross Country team has qualified for the state meet, which will be held in Clarksville on Oct. 7.
This is the third year of the TMSAA-sanctioned meet, and LBMS runners have qualified each year. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams qualified for 2017, with first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in the East Sectional Meet.
The girls’ team is led by Jenna Hutchins, who has had an unprecedented year, placing first in every meet in which the team has run – six regular-season meets plus the Sectional. She even set a course record at Bristol Cross held at Steele Creek Park.
The eight-grader grew up in Johnson City and attended Fairmont Elementary and moved back to Johnson City after living in Austin, Texas with her family for three years. While her middle school did not have a cross country team, she excelled in 2400m and 1600m events with the track team. Jenna discovered the joy of running at the age of 6 and is thrilled to be a part of the Liberty Bell cross country team.
Other girls running for the team at the state meet are: Trinny Duncan, Taryn Seeley, Reagan Guess, Jordan McIntosh, Morgan Mahoney, and Hannah Dawson. Trinny has qualified for state the last 3 years and Reagan and Jordan for 2 years.
The boys’ team will include: John Carter, Carson Whynot, Brit Dugan, John Cheek, Landon Smelser, Conley Owen, and Koda Cutlip. John Carter and John Cheek both competed at state last year.
The cross country team is coached by Donna Wilkinson, school counselor at LBMS, who is in her 19th year in cross country coaching, and David Nutter, a PE teacher at Indian Trail Intermediate School who is in his 11th year as a cross country coach. In 1999, Donna started the first seventh-grade cross country team at Indian Trail. When the school system realigned grades, she moved to Liberty Bell.
Upon arriving, the two coaches were able to combine the seventh and eighth grade runners. With a unique approach that stresses participation, fitness, and well-being as much as championships, Wilkinson and Nutter now have 80 students from Indian Trail and Liberty Bell on the 2017 squad.