East TN State XC: Top Teams and Runners

Top Athletes

Jenna Hutchins -- Science Hill

It was one of the most controversial races in the past decade. But when the dust settled, Science Hill freshman Jenna Hutchins was the Division I Large Schools State Champion. 

Hutchins ran the final mile and a half to perfection. She cut the gap on Sasha Neglia very well over the last mile, giving her a chance to come back for the win. When Neglia cut inside the final tree with 200 meters left, taking a right instead of a left, Hutchins stayed the course. Had they both run the correct distance, who knows how this race would've ended.

But one thing's for sure, Hutchins proved she can race with anyone in the state. And she gave herself a chance to beat one of Tennessee's best runners in the past five years. 

This is the second time that a freshman has won the Girls D1 Large Schools race in the past three years. Of course, the other one was Neglia two years ago.

Jake Renfree -- Knoxville Catholic

The Notre Dame commit went out on top.

Renfree controlled this race early, staying in striking distance throughout the early miles. But when the course got tougher and the race dragged on, Renfree was the fastest over the final mile. He outran a strong group of front runners for an impressive win over some of Tennessee's best.

The final time was 15:25. We mentioned before the race that it was likely going to take sub-15:30 to win this one. And Renfree was right on the money. 

The Large Schools race can always get interesting in the late stages. Sometimes it goes out so tactically that it takes 800 meter speed to be the first one to the line. Few runners in America can beat Renfree to the line over the final 200 meters of a cross country race. We saw why on Saturday.

Emerson Fulton -- Gatlinburg Pittman

One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the Division 1 Small Schools boys race. GP senior Emerson Fulton was the first to the line, outracing Porter Bradley and Alex Ponce.

We talked before the meet about how no one...and I mean no one...PRs on Steeplechase at the State Meet.

Fulton proved us wrong.

Not only did he set a new personal best. He crushed it. By over 20 seconds. Fulton's winning time of 16:41 was the first time he'd ever broken 17 minutes. What a race.

NIki Narayani -- Webb School of Knoxville

Another talented senior closed the book on a fantastic career on Saturday. Niki Narayani has been nearly unbeatable all season. And on Saturday she controlled another race from start to finish

With her 18:20 finishing time, Narayani gapped the rest of the field by 36 seconds.

She nearly matched her winning time from the Wingfoot Classic earlier this season. In doing so, Narayani gains some pretty strong momentum heading into her postseason races.

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