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By David Sharp
Knox County senior Jennifer Hinkle has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Missouri at Columbia and participate in the Southeast Conference Track and Field program.
Jennifer Hinkle joins a very select group of Knox County R-I athletes to sign a scholarship to play NCAA Division I sports. Kathy Stevenson (Turpin) played basketball for the Tigers after helping the Lady Eagles win the only state championship in a team sport Knox County High School has won in 1976.
Hinkle was won medals in the Class 1 girls Javelin championships as well as participate in the Junior Olympics. Her personal best Javelin throw at this time is 45.36 meters.
“It just shows my determination to compete,” Jennifer Hinkle told the Edina Sentinel in response to a reporter’s question about being the only KCHS athlete to sign a Division I scholarship in at least 31 years.
“I try to do everything that I can to throw the way I do,” Jennifer Hinkle said. “I think that putting a lot of time and effort into it has shown.” Hinkle talked about her reasons for choosing Missouri University to continue her track and field career.
“I really like the campus. It is one of the best campus I have ever been to. All of the things that go with it.” Mizzou Tiger athletes participate in a training program that includes nutrition at the Tiger training tables.
“Their coaching staff was really welcoming,” Jennifer Hinkle said. “If I was just a walk on at a DII school or going where I am I don’t think it would change my confidence at all. I know who I am as a person and as a thrower.”
“I think it takes a certain mentality to try to compete,” Jen Hinkle said when asked if the leadership she has shown and success she has achieved at Knox County HS would help increase student body interest in girls’ basketball, track and softball.
“You have to have a really good mindset in order to keep working at it. To get over your frustrations and obstacles.”
“I think the biggest thing is it shows the school size isn’t everything,” Knox County Track and Field coach Bruce Vannoy said. “If you want to work the year round and put the extra time and effort in, anything is possible.”
“There’s some God given talent there. I think it takes a whole lot more than that,” Bruce Vannoy said when asked for comment on Jennifer Hinkle signing with the University of Missouri.
“To see Jen be as successful as she has been at this level in high school and have the opportunity to go and compete at the Division I level is incredible,” Coach Vannoy said. “We are excited for her. It is a good thing for a lot of smaller schools to see and know that they have that opportunity.”
“I think it comes back to work ethic,” Bruce Vannoy said of the likely unquestioned leader of the 2023 Knox County Track and Field team. “Being the first one to come and the last one to leave shows that it does pay off.”
“It’s not just because she is a better athlete than us. It takes both to compete at the next level. There are a lot of good athletes that don’t get a chance to go compete in Division I or SEC.”
“We are excited for this spring. We will be even more excited to go watch her go and compete and see where she will end up being at,” Bruce Vannoy said. “It started last year. There would be a pretty good crowd around the Javelin at the district track meet. The home and away track meets.”
“A lot of that is attributed to (Jennifer Hinkle). Some of her competitors too. They knew that Jen was special. To have the chance to compete in her senior year. To come out here and watch her, or go to one of the bigger track meets we do attend.”
“To get a chance to see a Division I athlete is exciting,” Bruce Vannoy said. “She will have to deal with the expectations. The next four or five years of college is exciting for her.”
“We can’t wait to watch and see what happens.”