Winning one individual high school state championship is hard enough. How about winning 40?
For Gabrielle Jennings, who's ran for almost half her life, that’s nothing but a routine.
The Louisiana runner ran her final high school races last week, capping an incredible interscholastic career.
Jennings won the 400-, 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races in Class C at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Track & Field Meet to finish her eight-year running career with 44 individual state championships.
She began in 2008 when she won her first championship – the Class C cross country state title – as a fifth grader.
“At a time like this, I’ve made so many friends and this is my childhood. I grew up doing this. This is literally my life. A part of my childhood is gone tonight. It’s all in my memories," Jennings told NOLA. "I have graduation tomorrow, so it’s going to be a real emotional weekend. I have a lot of family and friends in right now. I just know that I have a lot of great support behind me and I can’t wait for bigger things to come. I’m ready to move on at the same time.”
During Jennings final race of her high school career – the 3,200-meter – stadium announcer Michael Boyer started to read off all of her accomplishments. In order to finish in time, he needed to start well before her final lap.
And by looking at her achievements, one can see why:
Jennings will run cross country for Furman University next year and although she's looking forward to that next chapter in her life, when she heard her name over the public-address system, she realized she was about to embark on her last high school race.
“That was the moment I realized that was it,” Jennings told NOLA. “I’ll never hear my named called before a race. During the last lap, and he was like ‘Listen to this…” and I really didn’t want to because I was going to start crying even more. I’m growing up and this a lot of memories down in the book – the book of Jennings.”
Maddie Koss is a summer intern in the NFHS Publications Department and a senior at Butler (Indiana) University.