Jake Renfree of KCHS wins indoor nationals, earns state and national honors

Knoxville Catholic High School senior Jake Renfree, days after winning state and national runner-of-the-year honors, won the New Balance Indoor  Nationals in early March with a personal-record time of 4 minutes, 6.39 seconds.

Jake won the boys 1-mile run by a margin of .29 seconds over Cole Sprout of Highlands Ranch, Colo. Callie Tucker and Eleanor Mancini of KCHS also raced at the indoor nationals.

Jake finished second in the New Balance Boys Mile final on Feb. 9 at the 112th Millrose Games in New York City. His time of 4:09.27 was .15 seconds behind winner Matt Rizzo of Bronxville, N.Y.

The KCHS senior has maintained a weighted 4.33 GPA in the classroom and will attend the University of Notre Dame this fall on scholarship for cross country and track. He will head to South Bend, Ind., as a third-generation pre-med student.

Jake was recently named National Senior Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) and was named the 2018-19 Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Eric Hess, executive director of the NHSCA, said that “Jake is an excellent example what this award stands for. He has excelled as much in the classroom as he has as a runner. We congratulate Jake on an outstanding high school career and wish him success at Notre Dame.”

Jake is the second Tennessee runner to win the NHSCA Senior Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year Award. Andrew Bumbalough of Brentwood Academy won the award in 2005.

In its 34th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, the Gatorade Co. announced Jake as its state runner of the year. Jake is the first Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Knoxville Catholic 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 field, distinguishes Jake as Tennessee’s best high school boys cross country runner.

The 6-foot-3, 155-pound senior finished second at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships this past season to earn first-team All-American status. Jake also won the Division I Large state meet in 15:25.58, breaking the tape 15.27 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor. He was the Metro Knoxville Cross Country Runner of the Year.

A member of the Spanish National Honor Society, Jake has volunteered locally at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, and he has donated his time to multiple community-service initiatives through Youth Leadership Knoxville.

“Jake works through the ups and downs of racing to succeed at the finish line,” said Ashley Powell, head coach of Bearden High School. “He is a fun runner to watch.”

Jake joins Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year Carter Coughlin (2017-18, Webb School of Knoxville), Brodey Hasty (2016-17 and 2015-16, Brentwood High School), Adam Barnard (2014-15, Daniel Boone High School), and Aaron Templeton (2013-14, Hardin Valley Academy) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.

As a part of Gatorade’s marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Jake has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of his choice, which will be announced throughout the year.

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