Farragut’s ‘non Admiral’ state champ carries on N-Dame, pre-med traditions

A state champion runner in track (1600- and 3200-meters) and cross-country (5k), Jake Renfree is a not-so-Admiral-like resident of Farragut.

Instead of donning the Navy blue and gray at Farragut High School, Renfree’s athletic success has been enjoyed wearing Fighting Irish blue, green and gold as a four-year student at Knoxville Catholic High School.

Renfree, a senior, is about to carry on family traditions in three ways as he heads to college: as a third generation pre-med major; a third generation student at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana; and as a scholarship running athlete.

With family members alongside, this talented 17-year-old was one of four Catholic star athletes to sign National Letter of Intent papers (see above photo) during a ceremony in KCHS library on National Signing Day Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 14.

About a specific medical direction he might take, “I have no idea right now,” Renfree said. “But I’m really interested in medicine. I’m coming from that background. It’s something I grew up in and always loved.”

He further stated that “physiology and anatomy” classes at KCHS “kind of confirmed what I really wanted to do.”

His father and Notre Dame alumnus, Dr. Tom Renfree (Class of 1993), is an orthopedic surgeon at Parkwest Medical Center. Renfree’s grandfather, Dr. John Renfree (ND Class of 1958), is a retired OBGYN.

Jake’s mother, Erica Renfree (ND Class of 1994) and uncle, Kevin Renfree (ND Class of 1983), also were pre-med majors.

As for a track/running legacy, “my grandfather (Dan Hall) ran track ... in college” in distance events at Fairmont University in Virginia, Renfree said.

“I wasn’t in his league, he’s great,” Hall said about Jake.

Athletically at Notre Dame, Jake will run cross country (8k and 10k) and distance events with the ND track and field team.

“I talked to (Notre Dame) coach (Sean) Carlson about it, and I think his philosophy is see where I am fitness-wise and see where my strengths would be,” Jake said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do the mile (1600-meters), it’s something I’ve hit really hard the past couple of years.”

He also mentioned steeplechase and 5k as other possible track directions at ND.

While winning the TSSAA Division I Large Class cross country individual state crown, running the 5k course at Percy Warner Park Steeplechase Course in Nashville at 15:25.58 earlier this month, Jake also is defending Large Class track state champ in the 1600 (4:12.70 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro last May as a junior).

Moreover, Jake helped lead his KCHS Fighting Irish to back-to-back Class A-AA track and field state titles as a sophomore (winning the 3200, 10:05.39; a leg on the state champion 4 X 800 team; and finishing second in the 1600, 4:32.74) in 2017, and as a freshman in 2016 (third in 3200, 10:02.66).

He also had high finishes in state meet cross-country his sophomore season (second place, 16:13.02) and as a junior (fourth place, 15:59.02).

Starting to take running seriously as a seventh-grader at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Farragut, Jake credits Sean O’Neil, KCHS track and field/cross country head coach, “for pushing me to where I needed to get pushed to, to really perform at my best.

“I really thank him for that.”