News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Like clockwork, Austin High's Jennifer Dunn finishes first again

By Brooke Milam 340-2460

It's a rainy winter day, the kind of day that makes most people want to stay inside and take a nap. But for Austin High junior Jennifer Dunn, it seems like the perfect day to go for a run.

For Dunn, every day is the perfect day for a run, even a cold, drizzly weekday.

Training in rain, sunshine or anything in between, Dunn is The Daily's girls cross country runner of the year for the third straight year, a feat that has been accomplished by only one other female runner since The Daily began awarding the honor annually in 1997. Speake's Emily Brackin received the award in 1999-2001.

Dunn capped her cross country season with a runner-up finish in Class 6A state meet, clocking in at 18 minutes, 14.61 seconds.

It marked her fourth straight top-six finish at the state cross country meet.

In November, she set a girls course record at the Jesse Owens Classic. She finished in 17:54.33 to break the previous record of 17:57.00 set by 2005 6A state champion Laurel Pritchard of Vestavia Hills.

That marked a personal best for Dunn, who also won the Chickasaw Trails, Cold Springs Kudzu Hills Invitational and Dew It on the Trails meets this season.

Dunn won't hesitate to say that she knows it's important to improve every year so that her times continue to hold up against the state's top competition.

"It especially helps our boys team because they want to be able to keep up with me," Dunn said smiling. "And they've done a great job being competitive this year."

And while Dunn said some younger runners have joined the ranks in recent years to push her to improve, she added that she's broadening her view to runners outside the state.

In September, she finished ninth against runners from across the nation the Nike Race of Champions in Hoover.

"I've started looking at national and regional rankings, so I still have a lot of other runners to look at," Dunn said.

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