Senior Spotlight: Gabrielle Jennings

Gabrielle Jennings


First Baptist High School

Who do you look up to as an inspiration to your running?

I look up to multiple people for different reasons. First, I'll give what I believe would be every distance runner's answer: Steve Prefontaine. Second, I love Emma Coburn. I've always wanted to try steeplechase and she's basically perfect. Although both of these athletes are great, my biggest inspiration and favorite athlete of all would be my dad. Not only is he my father, but he's also my coach and motivates me every step of the way. He's very wise due to his experience and always there for me on my good and bad days.

Up to this point in your running career, what has been your most memorable moment?

My favorite cross country memory was when I went to Brevard Distance Runners Camp in North Carolina with my sister, Madelyn, for the first time back in 2013. I became closer with so many people like Annie Hill of St. Joseph's; Alicia Stamey, Aimee Claire Whitehurst, and Haley Schwab of Episcopal; Dylan Heck and Mac McGuire of Mandeville High; and even out of state runners like Tanis Baldwin, a North Carolina native currently training for his freshman cross country season at North Carolina State. My favorite indoor track memory would have to be when my dad and I went back to Arkansas this past January for the Arkansas High School Indoor Invitational. Not only did I win both of my events, but I also got to run against great competition, meet many wonderful people, and watch the Arkansas vs. Texas dual meet that previous night. However, my favorite overall memory was made this June when my dad, Paw Paw, and I traveled to Nashville for my third time competing in the Music City Distance Carnival. I talked to college coaches; met some of the top high school, collegiate and professional runners in the country; got to talk and get a picture with Nick Symmonds; and ran my fastest time (4:52.50) yet in the mile.

You are projected to do very well this upcoming year. What do you do in order to stay grounded and focused on achieving your goals?

I've found that watching what I eat and getting enough sleep really makes a difference. In the beginning of the 2015, I decided to visit Mr. Mackie Shilstone and his team again, and the help I was given worked tremendously. I only made a small tweak on my diet, but I began losing unwanted weight and body mass like crazy. Keeping on a healthy diet and sleeping schedule helps me focus a lot better with other things like school and relationships. It makes me a better person altogether.

If you only had one song to listen to before your race, which would it be?

Although I've grown up listening primarily to my dad's 70's and 80's rock music, "The Final Countdown" is one of my many favorites. (Editors note: If you don't know the epicness that is "The Final Countdown" you should check it out.)

What is your favorite workout?

I like running 400m interval sessions the best when training for the mile.

Are you interested in running after high school and if so, what are you looking for in a school in order to determine if it is the right fit for you?

Growing up in a small school and having the privilege of being coached by my dad, a close-knit team environment is definitely a necessity for me. I want to be able to look at my coach and say "Wow, that's exactly like something my dad would say!" However, I am still keeping an open mind because sometimes the most unexpected things turn out to be the best things.

What meets are you looking forward to the most this year?

I'm looking forward to returning to the Brook's Memphis Twilight Run, the Jesse Owens Classic, the Arkansas High School Indoor Invitational, the Florida State University Relays, the Mobile Challenge of Champions, the Golden South Classic, and the Music City Distance Carnival. I'm also, of course, looking forward to my last state meets in each season. They will be very emotional times for my family, friends and myself.

What is your pre-meet or pre-race routine that you like to follow?

It usually depends on if the race is in the morning or later in the day. If it's in the morning, I'll wake up about two hours prior to my race and eat a good breakfast, drive to the course, stretch, warm up, and just chill until it's my time to run. If it's in the afternoon or later, I'll usually sleep in a little and keep a low heart rate by staying in the hotel room (for big meets) or my dad's truck for the remainder of the day until race time.

How many days a week do you run?

I run every day of the week, every week of the month, and every month of the year, holidays included! "If you want to be the best, you have to sacrifice."

And lastly, what food do you crave most after a hard workout or a race?

I usually crave fruit, but sometimes I'll crave heavy carbs (like pasta) or candy (specifically Swedish Fish because those are my favorite!).