Athlete of the Year: Running partner inspires Jenerette

Benjamin Jenerette is already a favorite to compete for the Class AAA state cross country championship, and now she has her secret weapon back.

The North Myrtle Beach standout and Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Year for girls cross country spent last season with a heavy heart despite her successful campaign while mother and running partner Katherine Jenerette was serving in the US Army overseas in Afghanistan.

Her mother missed her winning her second straight region title and Horry County championship and returned home shortly after the sophomore captured fifth-place in the state meet.

“I was a little disappointed in my place, but I improved on my time and that’s what’s important,” said Benjamin, who earned all-state honors with a time of 19 minutes, 3 seconds around the 3.1-mile course.

Katherine Jenerette returned right around Christmas time and the two have been pounding the pavement ever since. Katherine suffered a slight knee injury in Afghanistan but still manages to run 4-8 miles with her daughter.

“I call it woggling, a mix between jogging and waddling,” joked Katherine. “I know Benjamin really missed me running with her last year and I’m just happy I can be here for her now.”

The additional boost from mom has shown in Benjamin’s recent performances. She won the regional Junior Olympics meet at Myrtle Beach High in the 3000 meters, clocking a time of 11:34.

She also made the trip to Maryland to compete in a major junior event, finishing first in the 2-mile run with a time of 11:56 and second in the 5000 meters in 19:28.

“I had a decent time in the 2-mile but I was a little disappointed in the 5000 because my legs were still tired from the first race,” she said. “I’ve got to work on my hill training.”

Running on the flat coastal terrain can make it tough when a Lowcountry runner has to compete on a hilly course, and that’s her main focus heading into the cross country season.

Jenerette hopes to claim the state championship before her high school career is over, and she has two more years to bring home the gold. But right now she’s happy to bring home her mother and running partner.

“It really helps me just having her with me and encouraging me,” Benjamin said. “She’s talking about going back, but we’re not going to let her.”

Photo by Rancier Photography

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