In its 34th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Jenna Hutchins of Science Hill High School as its 2018-19 Gatorade Tennessee Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year . Hutchins is the first Gatorade Tennessee Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Science Hill High School . The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes Hutchins as Tennessee’s best high school girls track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, Hutchins joins an elite alumni association of state track & field award-winners, including Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt High School, Iowa), Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist High School, Calif.), Robert Griffin III (2006-07, Copperas Cove High School, Texas), Grant Fisher (2013-14 & 2014-15, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).
The 5-foot-3 freshman won the 800-meter run and the 1,600-meter run at the Division 1 Large state meet, this past season, leading the Hilltoppers to a ninth-place finish as a team. 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 in the 2-mile run (10:25.01) and No. 84 in the 1,600 (4:53.75).
A member of the Theatre Club at Science Hill High, Hutchins has volunteered locally as a youth track coach. “Jenna is an absolute beast,” said Sean O’Neil, head coach of Knoxville Catholic High. “She’s the best in the state in any distance from the 800 to 5K, which is phenomenal range. I really don’t think we’ve seen what she’s capable of yet.”
Hutchins has maintained an A average in the classroom. She will begin her sophomore year of high school his fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. In all, 607 athletes are honored each year.
Hutchins joins recent Gatorade Tennessee Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Rebecca Story (2017-18 & 2015-16, Christian Academy of Knoxville), Kethlin Campbell (2016-17, Shelbyville Central High School), Tamia Crockett (2014-15, Hardin Valley Academy) and Brittany Kelly (2013-14, Northeast High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause 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. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.