The Athletic and Talented Presleigh Jennings

Presleigh Jennings is a seventh-grade student in Marshall County. She races mountain bikes and is pretty darn good at it. She is active in several other sports, and science is her favorite subject as she wants to become a nurse when she grows up. iMeet this athletic and talented young lady!

Hi, Presleigh! Welcome to iMeet - Tell us about yourself and your family…

I am 12 years old and I live in Grand Rivers. I’m a 7th grade student at North Marshall Middle School. My parents are Ralph and Laura Jennings. I have one brother, Parker, who is a senior at Marshall County High School.

I have a dog named Emma and four talking parrots - their names are Sugar, Sid, Tasha and Rebel.

Talking parrots? What can they say?

Normally they will ask for whatever food we are eating. They will tell us that they are ready for bed and will blow kisses. Sid is the least talkative and he just asks, “What?” a lot like an old man who can’t hear - and he laughs.

Tasha and Rebel live in a cage together and they fight like a brother and sister. Sometimes they get aggravated with one another and tell each other to “shut up”.

You are a mountain bike racer...how did that come about? How did you become interested in it?

My brother got me started in mountain biking. He raced with the high school team for a couple years and I would ride with him. I love the sport. I’ve been riding for fun for several years but started racing last year.

I've really never heard about mountain bike racing...how does it work? How is it different from other bike races?

A mountain bike race is cross country, through the woods with rocks, tree roots, rock climbs and drops. It can also be rainy and muddy. I love the climbs. They challenge me. I race a Kona King Kahuna Bike. My bike weighs about 21 pounds.

Tell us about some of your races...

I race in my school league which is National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). We race in Tennessee because there are not enough schools participating in Kentucky to have a league. Maybe after this feature is online some local schools will start a team!

Marshall County has been State Champions four times. I am currently a defending State Champion. I race as a sophomore and haven’t lost a race.

My state championship is on top of Mount Eagle, Tennessee on October 29. I also race a Tennessee Bicycle Racing Association (TBRA) series. It’s more of a year round league. I am currently #1 in the series. The final race is October 15 and it's being held at Land Between the Lakes (LBL).

This past July I raced in Snowshoe, Wyoming at the National Mountain Bike Championships. I placed 1st in Downhill Dual Slalom, 5th in cross county, 15th in cross country 13-14 year old and 16th in short track 11-16 year old. I was the first 12-year-old to finish!

How often and where do you practice?

I am currently ranked #2 in the nation in short track and #9 in cross country. I practice with my team three days a week. We train in LBL or at the new trail at the Kentucky Dam State Park. We practice climbs and technique. I wear a device known as a cat eye so that I can monitor my heart rate, cadence, speed and distance.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I play soccer and I’m a high jumper on the track team. I also just tried out for the basketball team and made it! I have never played basketball but love the competition and a challenge of something new.

I am also a straight A student and very active in my church - Paradise United Methodist Church. They are a great support.

What's your favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject in school is Science because there is science all around us. I love learning new things.

Are you going to dress up for Halloween? Do you have your costume picked out?

I am planning on dressing up for Halloween but haven’t decided what to be yet. My mom always makes our costumes. Our entire family looks forward to Halloween.

What would you like to study in college? What do you want to be when you grow up? :)

 I want to study nursing as I plan on becoming a ER nurse and later a flight nurse.

Who has been the biggest influence and positive role model in your life?

My biggest influence is my preacher, Harry Todd. He was Mr. Kentucky basketball and a retired sergeant major in the army. He gives me pep talks before each event and encourages me and gives me confidence in myself.

Wow, Presleigh, you are one busy and accomplished young woman! We wish you every success with all your endeavors.