Nuttycombe XC Women — Valby & Northern Arizona Splash Ahead

Parker Valby made a front-running bid for the ’22 Nationals crown yet Katelyn Tuohy chased her down. Here the Florida junior’s runaway tactic worked. (PAUL MERCA)

VERONA, WISCONSIN, October 13 — Wet, slick and oftentimes slippery course conditions, engendered by a fairly steady rain that regularly intensified, seemed to augur a cautious race in the fifteenth women’s Nuttycombe Invitational.

Well, caution be damned, apparently.

What might have been expected to turn into close team and individual races became anything but that with runaway victories posted by Florida’s Parker Valby and the Northern Arizona women, rated No. 2 in the USTFCCCA coaches poll.

In each instance, the winner took down a nemesis. Valby ran away from NC State’s defending champion Katelyn Tuohy for a convincing win in a 6K course record 19:17.2 to Tuohy’s 19:29.5. It was a reversal of the two juniors’ finish in the NCAA championship last November.

And NAU simply showed how to run and win a major cross country meet, placing 5 runners in the top 18 (4–8–10–12–18) for 52 points, well ahead of erstwhile No. 1 NC State’s 95 (2–3–14–26–50). No other team threatened in the loaded 33-team field, with No. 11 Georgetown 3rd (208), No. 5 Stanford 4th (227), No. 9 Florida 5th (262) and No. 4 Notre Dame 6th (292).

Also running much better than their rankings were 30th-rated Oregon State in 7th, 29th-ranked Lipscomb in 10th and 22nd-rated Ole Miss in 12th.

Teamwise, it wasn’t much of a battle early, with NAU’s 5 in the top 31 for 92 points at 2K and with its top 4 running 6–13–14–15 at 4K and only 74 points. Even so, NC State was hardly racing poorly, with 195 points at 2K and 118 at 4K. NAU was simply just that good.

Initially, it looked like a three-person battle, with Tuohy, Valby and Stanford’s highly-touted Aussie frosh, Amy Bunnage, out from the get-go to a substantial lead by the first K. But by the 2K post, Valby and Tuohy — each running her first race of the season — were neck and neck at 6:25 while Bunnage had faded. But then Valby made her move, chewing up ground and extending her lead over Tuohy with every passing meter.

With 2K to go, Valby was a hair over 13:00 while Tuohy was 7 seconds back but well ahead of teammate Kelsey Chmiel, who would finish 3rd in 19:52.9.

Elise Stearns, who held steady with the lead chase pack throughout the race, was NAU’s top runner in 4th in 19:54 while two-time NCAA steeple finalist Kaylee Mitchell was 5th in 19:56.

It’s tough to repeat here, even with former and future NCAA champs headlining the fields. Only Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson (2018–19) has been able to do so in 15 editions of the Nutty.

“My coach told me to trust my instincts, so I just went off my gut and got out good and stayed good, I guess,” Valby said.

She was unaware of the size of the lead she had on Tuohy. “I didn’t know where we were at, cuz there was no time on the lead cart, so I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m running blindly.’ So I was just giving my all for the team.”

With conference, regional and national meets over the coming weeks, what’s ahead for Valby as she and Tuohy will certainly be at it again in Charlottesville?

“Just to keep improving and keep our team going.”

NAU coach Mike Smith said the women’s race stringing out as it did with Valby and Tuohy taking it out sharply contrasted with the men staying bunched up.

“It strings it out so much that you have a lot of clear running and that’s a huge difference,” he said. “You can pick your line. You’re not sliding so much. It’s less tense, less emotional. On a day like that I would pick the women’s race (as a better way to have the race pan out).”

As for his winners, he said “It’s the first time we had that full lineup, but I know that’s not North Carolina State’s best lineup. We definitely never want to get ahead of ourselves.”


Teams: 1. Northern Arizona 52; 2. NC State 95; 3. Georgetown 208; 4. Stanford 227; 5. Florida 262; 6. Notre Dame 292; 7. Oregon State 315; 8. Cal Baptist 322; 9. Michigan State 342; 10. Lipscomb 363; 11. Iowa State 381; 12. Ole Miss 382; 13. Washington 383; 14. Colorado 395; 15. Utah 419; 16. Wisconsin 421; 17. Colorado State 437; 18. Furman 438; 19. Harvard 454; 20. Syracuse 480.

Individuals (6K): 1. *Parker Valby (Fl) 19:17.2; 2. *Katelyn Tuohy (NCSt) 19:29.5; 3. Kelsey Chmiel (NCSt) 19:52.9; 4. *Elise Stearns (NnAz) 19:54.6; 5. Kaylee Mitchell (OrSt) 19:56.6; 6. *Maia Ramsden’ (Harv-NZ) 19:59.1; 7. *Chloe Scrimgeour (Gtn) 19:59.2; 8. Gracelyn Larkin’ (NnAz-Can) 20:01.5; 9. Olivia Markezich (NDm) 20:02.7; 10. Annika Reiss (NnAz) 20:06.8;

11. *Amina Maatoug’ (Duke-Neth) 20:07.1; 12. *Aliandrea Upshaw (NnAz) 20:08.7; 13. ***Amy Bunnage’ (Stan-Aus) 20:12.1; 14. ***Leah Stephens (NCSt) 20:12.7; 15. **Melissa Riggins (Gtn) 20:13.3; 16. Flomena Asekol’ (Fl-Ken) 20:14.2; 17. *Phoebe Anderson’ (Col-GB) 20:16.5; 18. ***Keira Moore’ (NnAz-Aus) 20:16.9; 19. *Kimberley May’ (Prov-NZ) 20:17.5; 20. Sarah Carter (CoSt) 20:17.9;

21. *Nicola Jansen’ (NM-SA) 20:18.8; 22. Grace Fetherstonhaugh’ (OrSt-Can) 20:19.8; 23. ***Annastasia Peters (Ut) 20:24.1; 24. *Ruby Smee (NnAz) 20:25.9; 25. *Laura Pellicoro’ (Port-Ita) 20:26.3; 26. ***Grace Hartman (NCSt) 20:29.1; 27. Katie Osika (MiSt) 20:30.1; 28. Ryann Helmers (Ms) 20:31.8; 29. Grace McLaughlin (CalBap) 20:32.3; 30. *Elise Thorner (Fl) 20:32.5;

31. Alyson Churchill (FlSt) 20:34.8; 32. *Makenna Veen (MiSt) 20:34.9; 33. Ella Baran (Co) 20:35.9; 34. **Leane Willemse (Wi) 20:36.0; 35. *Yasna Petrova’ (CalBap-Bul) 20:36.6; 36. Madelynn Hill (IaSt) 20:36.9; 37. **Carly Wilkes (Furm) 20:37.9; 38. *Allison Wilson (Fl) 20:38.4; 39. ***Karrie Baloga (Co) 20:38.6; 40. **Chloe Foerster (Wa) 20:39.0;

41. *Fatima Alanis (NC) 20:39.1; 42. *Emily Covert (Co) 20:39.2; 43. *Lucy Jenks (Stan) 20:39.8; 44. Maisie Grice (NnAz) 20:41.6; 45. *Shannon Flockhart’ (Prov-GB) 20:41.8; 46. **Riley Stewart (Stan) 20:42.0; 47. *Maggi Congdon (NnAz) 20:42.1; 48. Lauren Freeland (MiSt) 20:42.3; 49. *Ella Gilson (Harv) 20:42.5; 50. **Julia David-Smith (Wa) 20:43.2; 51. ***Hannah Gapes (NCSt) 20:44.0; 52. *Greta Karinauskaitė’ (CalBap-Lit) 20:45.0.