NCAA Women’s 5000 — Valby’s Bold Frontrunning

Having just four prior races this year could not keep Parker Valby from her first NCAA win. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

WHEN IT BECAME CLEAR that defending champ Katelyn Tuohy of NC State was not there all eyes were on the mercurial soph from Florida, Parker Valby, whose frontrunning at the Cross Country Nationals last fall got everyone’s attention.

“I didn’t know she wasn’t there,” Valby said, “until I didn’t see her but I saw her teammates.” But her absence “didn’t really change anything for me. I was going with the same mindset, the same game plan.”

And that was? “Coach [Will] Palmer told me to trust my instincts, and I did. It worked out.”

Valby, a 20-year-old native Floridian well suited to the humid high-80s conditions, immediately went to the front and didn’t look back, her 15:30.57 winning by 9 seconds over Utah Valley’s 10k winner Everlyn Kemboi: “That’s my strategy — just go for it, hold on and push and give it all I’ve got.”

After a few leisurely 77s, she stepped it up, motoring 73s. When she hit 3K in 9:22.76, only a few stragglers were left trying to keep up. They soon faded as well. With two laps to go, “I said, ‘OK, I can hang on, I have a lot left.’” She closed with 71.87 and 70.52, accelerating to the end.

“I’m so excited,” Valby said. “I’ve gotten 2nd place one too many times, so this is awesome.”

Valby’s brief career has also been beset by a leg ailment that remains undiagnosed. She missed the NCAA Indoor meets in ’22 and ’23 because of it. “I didn’t even know if I’d run this season,” she revealed.

Her resulting training methods are already legendary, because she only runs a couple of times a week. The rest is cross-training.

This spring she ran only two races, but that included a dramatic finish to win the SEC 5K by 0.04 over Mercy Chelangat of Alabama.

As to all those runner-up finishes? That would be losing to Tuohy a year ago in the NCAA 5000 and again to Tuohy last fall in the cross country finale.

At East Lake High, in Tarpon Springs, near Tampa, she rarely lost, including a 10:10 victory for the State 3200 title in ’19.

At these championships, Tuohy withdrew from the 5 after fading to 7th in the 1500 an hour and a half earlier. “She just felt awful after the 1500,” read a text from NC State coach Laurie Henes, “and I decided it was not in her best interest to run.”

In Tuohy’s absence, another Wolfpack runner, Amaris Tyynismaa, had the fastest final lap and finished 4th. In hindsight, she said, she wished she had tried to go with Valby.


(June 10)

1. **Parker Valby (Fl) 15:30.57 (70.52, 2:22.39, 4:52.50)

(39.56, 77.08 [1:56.64], 75.88 [3:12.52], 73.90 [4:26.42], 73.62 [5:40.04], 73.61 [6:53.65], 74.18 [8:07.83], 74.93 [9:22.76], 75.31 [10:38.07], 75.51 [11:53.58], 74.60 [13:08.18], 71.87 [14:20.05], 70.52);

2. *Everlyn Kemboi’ (UtV-Ken) 15:39.57 (72.33, 2:27.36, 4:59.75);

3. Emily Venters (Ut) 15:42.40 (74.43, 2:29.97, 5:02.26);

4. *Amaris Tyynismaa (NCSt) 15:44.82 (69.47, 2:25.48, 5:03.12);

5. **Amina Maatoug’ (Duke-Neth) 15:48.22 PR (69.90, 2:23.60, 4:58.76);

6. Cailie Logue (IaSt) 15:49.85 (71.86, 2:25.12, 5:00.02);

7. *Simone Plourde’ (Ut-Can) 15:50.10 (70.16, 2:26.55, 5:05.52);

8. **Chloe Scrimgeour (Gtn) 15:52.37 (73.63, 2:27.93, 5:02.98);

9. *Amelia Mazza-Downie’ (NM-Aus) 15:56.35; 10. ***Siona Chisholm’ (NDm-Can) 15:58.17; 11. *Alyson Churchill (FlSt) 16:02.40; 12. **Sydney Thorvaldson (Ar) 16:03.61; 13. ***Jane Buckley’ (Prov-Ire) 16:06.76; 14. *Lucy Jenks (Stan) 16:08.16; 15. *Gracelyn Larkin’ (NM-Can) 16:08.22; 16. *Kelsey Chmiel (NCSt) 16:08.97; 17. **Faith Demars (PennSt) 16:09.61; 18. **Maia Ramsden’ (Harv-NZ) 16:12.95; 19. *Lydia Miller (Lips) 16:14.55; 20. **Yasna Petrova’ (CalB-Bul) 16:16.09; 21. **Brianna Weidler (UCD) 16:21.70; 22. *Ella Baran (Co) 16:22.52; 23. Sarah Carter (CoSt) 17:01.30;… dnc—**Katelyn Tuohy (NCSt).