When French foreign exchange student Leo Penne arrived in America, he wanted to be completely immersed in the American experience, but he had no idea that he would become one of Tennessee’s best high school cross country runners.
On August 4, Penne arrived at Grundy County High School and met with each one of his teachers. Karen Dickerson, his English IV teacher, learned from Dr. Donna Jones, school advisor, that Penne might be interested in running cross country for GCHS. Though his English was initially limited, Penne said that he would like to run.
After his first practice with the team, Coach David Dickerson told his wife, “We are taking him to state!”
As soon as the cross country season began, Penne started winning race after race. Along the way, his English improved, and he gained a huge fan base at GCHS. His outgoing personality resulted in many friendships at the high school as evidenced by his being voted Homecoming King. Penne’s popularity did not stop there; his senior classmates honored him once again by electing him Most Popular in the Senior Superlatives.
At the cross country region, Dickerson once again told his wife, “You know we are taking him to state, right?”
Penne finished in fourth place, earning a berth in the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s state cross country race on November 4.
This past weekend, Grundy County’s Frenchman competed against 193 other runners and finished in ninth place, earning a medal. Once again, Penne was seen talking to his competitors before and after the race.
When asked if he was so friendly in France, Penne replied, “No, I never really talked to people in France, but the people here are very friendly.”
Thank you, Leo Penne, for representing Grundy County so well, and congratulations!