Parker Valby Dominates 2024 NCAA 10,000m Final to Win Her Fifth National Title

Valby crushed the championship record by running 31:46.09 -- and managed to have some fun along the way too

EUGENE, Ore. — It is not supposed to look this easy. At some point, crushing a field of NCAA finalists while running the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history is meant to take a toll. But over the course of 25 laps on Thursday night en route to winning the 2024 NCAA 10,000-meter title in 31:46.09, the closest Florida’s Parker Valby came to looking uncomfortable was when she experienced an unwelcome bump from Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe as they lapped slower runners with two miles to go.

The race played out like most Valby races have during this incredible season: it was a race until Valby decided to it was time to win. Tonight, that was with five laps to go, when Valby accelerated and used a 4:49.35 final 1600 to separate herself from Roe and Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi (who gamely hung on until 1200 to go). From there, the scenes were familiar: Valby all alone on the final lap, a Gator chomp at the finish line, another record smashed (Sharon Lokedi‘s 32:09.20 meet record from 2018? Sayonara).

Starting with her first cross country race on October 13, Valby has lined up 13 times for Florida during the 2023-24 academic year. She has won 13 times, with an average margin of victory of 22.09 seconds. By Valby’s standards, the 5.80-second gap between her and runner-up Olemomoi tonight actually constituted a close race. Tonight was her fourth NCAA title of 2023-24 (and fifth in her career), tying the most by a women’s collegiate distance runner in one year. She will go for a record-breaking fifth in Saturday’s 5,000-meter final.

Seldom has a runner brought so much levity to an NCAA final. Midway through an 86-second opening lap, Oklahoma State’s Gabby Hentemann turned to Valby, running near the back of the pack, and gave her a look.

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“She was like, Parker, we’re walking right now,” Valby said. “This is supposed to be your job. You’re supposed to take it.”

Valby could not help but laugh. A mile later, Valby, now up to second place, looked up and saw a familiar face on the video board at the north end of Hayward Field: her own. So she waved…to herself. Just before halfway, Valby’s hip number was coming loose from her right thigh, so she scrunched it up into a ball and threw it to her teammates, cracking another smile when she caught sight of the large Parker-Valby-in-a-cowboy-hat Fathead her coaches were holding up on the back straight.

Valby’s airy nonchalance felt more appropriate for a high school dual meet than a national championship. For so many athletes, the NCAA meet is a source of great expectations and stress. For Valby, it is a time to play, to say hello to a teammate or family member. And oh yes, win another national title.

“I really just love running, so I just have as much fun as I can,” Valby said.

Behind Valby, the rest of the top six all ran personal bests, thanks largely to Roe’s efforts to push the pace after a slow opening 800. Olemomoi’s 31:51.89 would have smashed the meet record had Valby not beaten her to the punch, while Roe whacked 45 seconds off her pb to hold on for 3rd in 32:17.45, one spot ahead of her Oklahoma State teammate Molly Born, who lowered her pb from 32:42.93 to 32:27.18. Georgetown’s Chloe Scrimgeour (5th, 32:29.44) and BYU’s Jenna Hutchins (6th, 32:44.05) rounded out the top six.

Results *Lap-by-lap splits

Pl Athlete Time
1 Parker VALBY
Florida [JR]
31:46.09  MR 
Alabama [JR]
31:51.89  PB 
3 Taylor ROE
Oklahoma State [SR]
32:17.45  PB 
4 Molly BORN
Oklahoma State [JR]
32:27.18  PB 
Georgetown [JR]
32:29.44  PB 
32:44.05  PB 
Arkansas [JR]
NC State [SO]
9 Paityn NOE
Arkansas [FR]
32:57.29  PB 
10 Maggie DONAHUE
Georgetown [SR]
UC Davis [SO]
33:15.10  PB 
Villanova [JR]
Oklahoma State [SR]
33:26.53  SB 
14 Florence CARON
Penn State [SO]
15 Rosina MACHU
Gonzaga [SO]
16 Sarah CARTER
Colorado St. [SR]
17 Lucy NDUNGU
Wichita State [JR]
18 Sandra MAIYO
19 Purity SANGA
Mid. Tenn. State [SR]
20 Savannah ROARK
Syracuse [JR]
Northern Arizona [JR]
Penn [SO]
NC State [SR]
Notre Dame [SR]

Quick Take: Valby’s 2023-24 campaign is already legendary, but on Saturday she has the chance to do something no NCAA runner has ever done

One year after NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy produced one of the greatest seasons in NCAA history, Parker Valby may have topped it. Last year, Tuohy won three NCAA titles and set collegiate records in the mile, 3000, and outdoor 5,000. So far in 2023-24, Valby has won four NCAA titles (the first over Tuohy at NCAA XC in November) and smashed the collegiate records in the 5,000 (twice, including a 14:52.79 at NCAA indoors) and 10,000 (30:50.43), becoming the first collegiate woman under the 15:00 and 31:00 barriers.

And unlike Tuohy in 2022-23, Valby has gone undefeated this year. Tuohy attempted an audacious NCAA 1500/5,000 double in the heat of Austin last year but only finished 7th in the 1500 before scratching the 5,000. Valby, meanwhile, just won her fourth NCAA title of the year tonight, and if she can win the 5,000 on Saturday — which she is heavily favored to do — she will become the first female college distance runner to claim five titles in one academic year. Currently, she is one of five women tied with four.

Year Athlete School NCAA titles
1989-90 Suzy Favor Hamilton Wisconsin iMile, i3k, o800, o1500
1992-93 Clare Eichner Wisconsin iMile, i3k, o1500, o3k
1996-97 Amy Skieresz Arizona XC, i5k, o5k, o10k
2006-07 Sally Kipyego* Texas Tech XC, i3k, i5k, o10k
2023-24 Parker Valby Florida XC, i3k, i5k, o10k

*Kipyego came agonizingly close to five titles in 2006-07. She won her first four NCAA finals, then finished 2nd in the outdoor 5,000 in her final race of the season.

Valby’s races in 2023-24

Date Race Distance Time Winning margin (secs)
October 13 Nuttycombe 6k XC 19:17.2 12.3
October 27 SECs 6k XC 18:37.5 33.7
November 10 NCAA South regional 6k XC 17:59.6 3.1
November 18 NCAA champs 6k XC 18:55.2 10.5
December 2 BU Season Opener 5,000 14:56.11 7.86
February 24 SEC indoors 3,000 8:42.29 13.92
March 8 NCAA indoors 5,000 14:52.79 22.22
March 9 NCAA indoors 3,000 8:41.50 5.21
April 11 Bryan Clay 10,000 30:50.43 121.58
May 11 SEC outdoors 5,000 15:07.86 18.00
May 23 NCAA East regional 10,000 32:43.91 9.73
May 25 NCAA East regional 5,000 15:19.76 23.26
June 6 NCAA outdoors 10,000 31:46.09 5.80

Quick Take: Parker Valby says she is not thinking about the Olympics

Valby’s 30:50 season’s best is the second-fastest 10,000 time by an American in 2024 and makes her a serious contender for the US Olympic team in that event — especially when you consider American record holder Alicia Monson will miss the Trials due to injury and reigning US champ Elise Cranny may not even run the event at the Trials. The problem for Valby is that she does not have the 30:40 Olympic standard, and her world ranking is not high enough to get her in (you need two 10,000s to get a ranking, and after her 30:50, her only other 10,000 in the window before tonight was the 32:43 she ran at the East Regional).

Considering the Olympic qualification window ends on June 30, Valby is running out of chances to hit the standard or improve her ranking, but she said she never considered trying for the standard tonight.

“Absolutely not,” Valby said. “I have a race on Saturday.”

Valby loves being part of the Florida team and said that is where her focus is right now. She said she is not thinking about the Olympic Trials or Olympics yet.

Valby said Nike made her custom spikes for tonight’s race

“I am taking life day by day right now and I am focusing on today, 25 laps,” Valby said. “Saturday, I’m focused on 12.5 laps. And focus on each day after that.”

Valby’s time tonight would not have counted for Olympic qualification anyway, as she was wearing a pair of custom Vaporflies with a spike plate on the bottom that were sent to her by her NIL sponsor Nike. While the shoes are legal in NCAA competition, World Athletics rules state that for world ranking/qualification purposes, competitions must adhere to World Athletics Technical Rules, which set a maximum sole thickness of 25mm for the 10,000m (which the Vaporflies exceed).

Valby was not thinking about any of that. She said she chose to wear them because she has a lot of racing this weekend in Eugene.

“I have the 5k on Saturday and I’d like to have recovered legs,” Valby said.

Valby may not be thinking about time there either, but it is worth noting that the Olympic 5,000 standard of 14:52.00 is just a hair faster than her pb of 14:52.79, which she ran in the NCAA indoor final. Her chances of qualifying in the 10,000 aren’t dead either, though to put herself in position to earn selection in that event, she would need to run a fast time at the Olympic Trials to improve her ranking.

Quick Take: Taylor Roe was glad she took her shot

Roe figured a faster pace was her best shot to run well and by 7k, she had succeeded in dropping everyone but Valby and Olemomoi. Roe said she was dying over the final mile as she saw a 24-second gap to 4th place with six laps to go shrink to less than 10 by the finish. But ultimately Roe was rewarded for her efforts with a big pb and a third-place finish.

“I was happy with the way that I took the initiative and put myself out there,” Roe said. “If I play it safe, maybe it plays out a little different…I’m proud of how I stuck my nose in it and just made things happen.”

Roe is at the end of her final year at Oklahoma State, and during her five-year career, she has logged two NCAA runner-up finishes, two 3rd places, and the 2022 NCAA indoor 3,000 title. That consistency is set to be rewarded as Roe says she plans to be competing in a pro singlet at the Olympic Trials in two weeks. But for now, she has one final race for OSU in Saturday’s 5,000 final.

Quick Take: Jenna Hutchins was proud to earn her first All-American honor and set an example through her perseverance

The BYU sophomore Hutchins’ name may sound familiar as she was a teen phenom back in the fall of 2020, when won the RunningLane national championship in cross country and ran a then high school record of 15:34 for 5,000 as a junior. She then decided to enroll early at BYU at the start of 2022, but struggled to make an immediate impact in her first season of cross country.

But by the spring of 2023, Hutchins was again approaching her high school times and this winter improved to 15:30 in the 5,000, making it to NCAAs for the first time. Tonight, she was even better, notching her first All-American honor and another pb of 32:44, and after the race Hutchins stressed the importance of having faith and staying patient.

“Coming out of high school already running so fast, I feel like it’s sometimes hard to continue to grow at that fast of a rate,” Hutchins said. “Along with a couple of injuries I went through along with some other things, I feel like it made it a little more difficult and I had to stay patient. I feel like there is a lot of young girls that sometimes that does happen to going from high school to college. I just wanted to be an example to show people that as long as you don’t give up on your dreams, you can go back to where you were, if not even faster.”

Discuss this race on the famous messageboard

MB Official 2024 NCAAs Day 2 Discussion Thread – Does Valby go for 30:40? Does Leo N get the WR?
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