NCAA Women’s 10K — Dawdling Start, Valby MR Finish

Parker Valby, the Collegiate Record holder, bided her time for 17½ laps before hitting the gas. (MIKE SCOTT)

ASSUMING THAT Parker Valby’s 10K priorities were: (1) winning; and (2) conserving energy for her 5K two days later; the only question about this race was, could anyone else stay close enough to the Florida junior to try to outkick her on the last lap — for a very unlikely but possibly colossal upset.

The answer was no.

Valby began with a 1:31 PR advantage over the next-fastest entrant, Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi. Speculation that Valby might try to run hard, to chase the Olympic qualifying standard of 30:40, was soon laid to rest, as the early pace settled into a pattern that would have made a race walker happy.

Just before the first kilometer, passed in 3:25, one of the Oklahoma State runners said to Valby, “Go! This is yours! Take it,” to which Valby said she replied, “I’m not leading.”

And so it went, through kilometers of 3:12, 3:10, 3:10, and 3:07. Around 3200m, a group of four — Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe, always in front; Valby; Olemomoi; and NC State senior Amaris Tyynismaa — began to gradually separate from the rest.

The pace continued: 3:09, 3:14, 3:16. With about 14 laps remaining, the lead group was down to 3, as Tyynismaa, courageously fighting through serious health concerns, was consigned to the dreaded no-woman’s-land between the leaders and the distant trailing pack.

Finally, with 7½ laps remaining, Valby moved in front, but the move was not decisive, and although it lost Roe, Olemomoi stayed within striking distance.

Any potential drama ended with 1200 to go, when Valby increased her pace and gapped the Alabama junior. She finished in a meet record 31:46.09, covering the final 2 kilometers in 3:03 and 3:00.

Olemomoi (31:51.89), Roe (32:17.45), Molly Born (Oklahoma State, 32:27.18), Chloe Scrimgeour (Georgetown, 32:29.44) and Jenna Hutchins (BYU, 32:44.05) all recorded PRs in the next places.

“The race was good, we started off at a pedestrian pace, it was unusual, but it went well,” was Valby’s summation of her effort. “I took the lead sooner than I was supposed to. I was trying to get to the rail, but there wasn’t enough room for me. I took the lead a half-lap sooner than what my coach told me.”

Regarding her Olympic chances, she said, “I am taking life day by day, focusing on tonight and then on Saturday and the 12 laps I have to do, and then focusing on each day after that.”


(June 06)

1. *Parker Valby (Fl) 31:46.09 (x, 7 C)

(72.68, 2:24.35, 3:36.73, 4:49.35);

2. *Hilda Olemomoi’ (Al-Ken) 31:51.89 PR (8, 9 C)

(71.09, 2:27.36, 3:41.87, 4:54.93);

3. Taylor Roe (OkSt) 32:17.45 PR (77.38, 2:36.66, 3:56.30, 5:16.23);

4. *Molly Born (OkSt) 32:27.18 PR (71.98, 2:28.69, 3:45.54, 5:02.72);

5. *Chloe Scrimgeour (Gtn) 32:29.44 PR (74.40, 2:30.47, 3:47.55, 5:05.20);

6. **Jenna Hutchins (BYU) 32:44.05 PR (70.69, 2:30.57, 3:51.66, 5:12.31);

7. *Sydney Thorvaldson (Ar) 32:50.47 (77.27, 2:37.25, 3:58.35, 5:18.98);

8. **Grace Hartman (NCSt) 32:54.98 (76.35, 2:37.15, 3:58.47, 5:19.06);

9. ***Paityn Noe (Ar) 32:57.29 PR; 10. Maggie Donahue (Gtn) 33:13.13; 11. **Dani Barrett (UCD) 33:15.10 PR; 12. *Sadie Sigfstead’ (Vill-Can) 33:18.63; 13. Gabby Hentemann (OkSt) 33:26.53; 14. **Florence Caron’ (PennSt-Can) 33:26.98; 15. **Rosina Machu (Gonz) 34:07.11; 16. Sarah Carter (CoSt) 34:08.75; 17. *Lucy Ndungu (Wich) 34:18.02; 18. ***Sandra Maiyo (UTEP) 34:26.73; 19. Purity Sanga’ (MTn-Ken) 34:31.63; 20. *Savannah Roark (Syr) 34:43.18; 21. *Ali Upshaw (NnAz) 34:55.74;… dnf—**Lily Murphy (Penn), Amaris Tyynismaa (NCSt), Andrea Markezich (NDm).