EARLYSVILLE, Va. (WJHL) — Former Science Hill star Jenna Hutchins shone Saturday on her biggest collegiate cross-country stage yet, as the redshirt freshman finished fifth overall, helping lead Brigham Young University to an easy win at the Pre-Nationals meet.

With teammate Carmen Alder capturing first overall, sixth-ranked BYU placed its five scoring runners first, fifth, seventh, ninth and 10th for a dominant win against a field that included three other top 20 teams. The Cougars’ score of 32 was far ahead of second-place and 19th-ranked Arkansas’ score of 90.

Hutchins finished the 6,000-meter course in 19:58.3 and held onto fifth over the last 1,000 meters, which she covered in 3:15.7, one of the better final split times in the field.

BYU’s Jenna Hutchins (left) late in the race on the heels of University of Virginia’s Margot Apple. Hutchins finished fifth overall in the Pre-Nationals at Earlysville, Va. Saturday, Oct. 14, just behind Apple. (Photo: Tom Connelly)

That was a significant improvement from the end of her first 6,000-meter race three weeks earlier at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Oregon. While she still finished eighth overall in that race (also a BYU win), she dropped from fourth over the last split as all the other top 20 runners gained ground on her.

“I’m really proud of Jenna’s effort this race and very excited for the championship part of the season,” BYU Coach Diljeet Taylor said.

“She is progressing so well and I’m excited to build on this race and take this momentum into the rest of the season.”

Hutchins has now finished first, eighth and fifth in BYU’s three meets. She shaved 20 seconds off her Dellinger Invitational time. Her win in the Autumn Classic in Provo, Utah occurred on a 5,000-meter course.

Saturday, Hutchins never dropped below seventh overall after the first 2,000 meters, when she was 10th but just 0.7 seconds behind the leader.

Hutchins won two state championships for Science Hill and set a national 5K record before injuries cut her senior season short in 2020-2021. She redshirted for Taylor at BYU last fall before competing with the team in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

Jenna Hutchins (bib 131) preps for the start of Saturday’s Pre-National cross country meet in Earlysville, Va. Oct. 14, 2023. BYU easily won the team title and Hutchins was second on the team and fifth overall. (Photo: Tom Connelly)

Hosting campus Virginia finished third Saturday with 104 points. The seventh-ranked Cavaliers were led by junior Margot Appleton who finished fourth just three seconds ahead of Hutchins.

“I’m super proud of our women and their work,” Taylor said in a news release following the meet.

“I think there are a few more gains that we can make, but they have done a really good job these few weeks. I am going to keep the women focused on us and we will hopefully be great when we come back to Virginia in November.”

BYU next takes the course Oct. 28 at the Big 12 Conference championship meet in Ames, Iowa. The conference also includes No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 13 Iowa State with top 25 rankings. The NCAA Mountain Regional is Nov. 10 in Lubbock, Texas with the national championships set for Nov. 18 on the same Panorama Farms course BYU raced on Saturday.