Get on a fast course. Run a fast time.
That was the goal for Science Hill (TN) High School's Jenna Hutchins, and she certainly did it, producing the second fastest sophomore 5K effort since 2006 -- and the second fastest sophomore race overall, according to the MileSplit database -- on Friday night in the elite Sole Sports Girls Sweepstakes race at the Desert Twilight Festival.
Hutchins outpaced Desert Vista freshman Lauren Ping on the Casa Grande Sports Complex course to win in a new career best time of 16:38.97. Ping was second in 16:49.13. The duo were the only females to break 17 minutes overall.
Hutchins became the first runner outside Arizona or Colorado to win the girls sweepstakes race outright.
The Tennessean also ran faster than Katelyn Tuohy's sophomore best of 16:44.70, which was done on the Nike Cross Nationals course in 2017. And she ran faster than current US No. 1 Brynn Brown's second-year best of 16:41.13, which the Texan achieved on her home course in Denton in 2018.
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The only other sophomore time that was faster, all-time, was Independence graduate Kathy Kroeger's 16:32.00 from the Foot Locker South Regional in 2006. Ironically, Kroeger was also from Tennessee.
Historically, Hutchins' time was special. It's the second best Tennessee time ever and the second best performance at the Desert Twilight Festival, trailing only Katie Rainsberger's 16:23.40 from 2015.
Ping's time, her first 5K under 17 minutes, is now No. 4 all-time at the event. She's coming off a spectacular effort last week at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, where she also finished second in a time of 16:09.80.