Parker Valby Wins 2024 NCAA 5,000m Title to Complete Unprecedented Distance Sweep

Valby is the first woman in collegiate history to win five NCAA distance titles in the same academic year

EUGENE, Ore. — Five for five.

In the 43 years that the NCAA has sponsored women’s championships in cross country and track & field, no female distance runner had ever claimed five national titles across a single academic year. That is, until Parker Valby won the outdoor 5,000-meter title at Hayward Field on Saturday. And because this is Valby, she broke the meet and collegiate record as well, clocking 14:52.18, a slight improvement on the previous NCAA record of 14:52.79 set by — you guessed it — Parker Valby at the NCAA indoor championships three months ago.

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Valby’s string of NCAA titles actually began when she won the outdoor 5,000 in Austin last year, which means she now has six in all. Her annus mirabilis of 2023-34 began in earnest at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November, where her 10.6-second margin of victory was the largest in 16 years. She followed up with a pair of NCAA indoor titles in Boston in March, then set a meet record to win the 10,000 in Eugene on Thursday before doubling back to crush the field by 18 seconds in today’s 5,000.

You would have to go back to Jenny Simpson (then Barringer), who set five collegiate records in 2009 (including a still-standing 3:59.90 in the 1500) to find a collegiate distance runner so far ahead of her peers. Valby is not just undefeated in 14 collegiate races this year; she has not even been challenged. Her smallest margin of victory was 3.1 seconds at the NCAA South regional in November, a qualifying meet where she had no reason to strain. Other than that, no one has come within five seconds of Valby in more than a year.

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And while Valby’s collegiate records of 14:52.18 and 30:50.43 may eventually be broken (though with cushions of 9 and 27 seconds, respectively, on second place, that could take a while), she will forever be the first NCAA woman to blast through the 15:00 barrier for 5,000 and 31:00 barrier for 10,000. This is an athlete, and a season, that will live long in the memory.

Unlike Valby’s 10,000 victory, where she spent the early laps smiling and waving to herself on the jumbotron, Saturday’s 5,000 final was a lesson in brutal efficiency. After hanging back for the first lap, Valby had the lead by 600 meters and turned the pace up to a place only she could go: 71-71-71-71-70-70-70-71-70-70-69. That is not a list of daily highs for San Diego. Those are Valby’s last 11 lap splits in today’s race. Can Parker Valby kick? No one even knows anymore. She doesn’t need to.

Just as in the 10,000, Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi hung with Valby the longest, making it through 3,000 in 8:59 before falling off early in the final 1600 meters, which Valby would run in 4:42.08, putting 18 second on Olemomoi.

Valby’s only opponent over the last three laps was the clock. Could she lower her own 14:52.79 collegiate record and run under the 14:52.00 Olympic standard in the process? Valby said she was not concerned with either question until the final meters, when she caught sight of the clock and leaned at the line. She would split the difference with a time of 14:52.18.

Olemomoi won the non-Valby division by running 15:10.04, just ahead of Colorado’s Bailey Hertenstein, who clocked 15:10.98 thanks to a 63.18 final 400 — the fastest last lap in the field by more than two seconds. Both women were also under Sally Kipyego‘s previous meet record of 15:15.08 from 2008.


Pl Athlete Time
1 Parker VALBY
Florida [JR]
14:52.18  PB   CL   MR   CR 
Alabama [JR]
Colorado [SR]
15:10.98  PB 
Virginia [JR]
Texas Tech [FR]
15:25.41  PB 
6 Taylor ROE
Oklahoma State [SR]
15:26.18  SB 
7 Ella BARAN
Colorado [SR]
15:28.43  PB 
15:30.63  PB 
9 Annika REISS
Northern Arizona [SR]
15:30.64  PB 
10 Gracelyn LARKIN
Northern Arizona [SR]
15:32.82  PB 
11 Sophia KENNEDY
Stanford [FR]
15:33.29  PB 
12 Chloe THOMAS
Connecticut [JR]
15:34.48  PB 
Arkansas [JR]
14 Grace HARTMAN
NC State [SO]
Notre Dame [SO]
Oregon [SO]
Stanford [FR]
18 Flomena ASEKOL
Florida [SR]
19 Phoebe ANDERSON
Columbia [JR]
20 Samantha BUSH
NC State [SR]
21 Maelle PORCHER
Iowa State [SO]
Georgetown [JR]
Harvard [JR]
Penn [SO]

Quick Take: Valby is in a league of her own

Entering today, Valby was one of four distance women to win four NCAA titles in the same academic year. Her win today makes her the first woman to sweep the 5k/10k since Arkansas’ Dominique Scott in 2016 and puts her on a plane of her own when it comes to titles in one year with five overall. She is also the first woman since Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer in 2017-18 to repeat as NCAA 5,000m champ.

“It’s very surreal,” Valby said. “I looked up to Katelyn Tuohy and Taylor Roe. It’s incredible to be in their position. I’m just super grateful for everyone and everything it took to get here.”

Women with 4+ NCAA titles in one year

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, o5k, o10k

Quick Take: Valby was mum on her future plans

If it was not already clear before this race, no other woman in the NCAA is close to Parker Valby’s ability. Though she does have another year of eligibility remaining, Valby’s plan is to turn professional, where she is expected to command a large base salary of $650,000 – $800,000 per year from whichever brand signs her, according to Runner’s World. She also will avoid the typical 15% agent’s commission as her father, Kyle, is handling negotiations. (Agent Tom Ratcliffe negotiated Valby’s NIL deal with Nike; Valby said it was a “personal preference” when asked why she chose to forgo using a traditional agent).

Valby is a fascinating pro prospect. Her talent is undeniable, she has a large social media following (102,000 followers on Instagram), and she has a bubbly, occasionally goofy personality. All of those things are appealing to brands. The concerns are that Valby does not have great running mechanics and only runs 3-4 times per week, famously spending hours cross-training on the ARC trainer. That setup has produced unprecedented results for Valby over the last 12 months, but it remains to be seen whether it is viable long-term, particularly as she adjusts to a higher level of competition.

Valby came just .18 away from the Olympic standard today, but unlike in the 10,000 meters, she should have no worries about being eligible to compete at the Olympics. Valby was firmly within the Road to Paris quota list in the 5,000 entering today and her 14:52 win today will only move her up the list.

Valby is entered in both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Trials (June 21-30) and said she does not know whether she will double yet. The 5,000, which comes first, is pretty simple: if she finishes in the top three, she will be on the team for Paris. Valby would also have a good shot to make the team in the 10,000, but there are many more moving pieces in that event that will impact Valby’s place on the Road to Paris list, including her time and place at the Trials, the performances of other women at their upcoming national championships, and whether other athletes/federations ahead of her elect to decline their spots.

Quick Take: How competitive will Valby be at the Olympic Trials?

This is the big question. Valby is going to be racing the pros at the Olympic Trials, which is not something she has done very often. Despite finising 2nd at NCAA outdoors in 2022 and 1st in 2023, Valby did not run USAs in either of those years, and her racing schedule has consisted of almost exclusively college meets. Her only race against pros in the last year was when she ran 14:56 at BU in December, and that race did not feature most of the main contenders she will battle at the Trials.

Before Valby became unbeatable in 2023, she was known for pushing the pace in her races against Katelyn Tuohy because Tuohy had the superior closing speed. Kicks can be improved — Nico Young showed that this year — but you have to work at it. Has Valby been working on her kick in practice? We’ll find out pretty soon at the Olympic Trials, because it is unlikely she runs away with those races as she did this weekend.

While Valby’s times blow every other collegian in history out of the water, her 30:50 pb is 11th on the all-time US 10,000 list. It is exceptional performance for a 21-year-old, but of the 10 women with faster pbs than Valby, five of them are currently entered in the Trials. It is a similar story in the 5,000, where Valby’s 14:52 pb ranks her #19 all-time in the US.

Quick Take: Hilda Olemomoi would be a two-time NCAA champion if it weren’t for Parker Valby

Olemomoi ran faster than the existing meet record in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters this weekend but was beaten to the punch by Valby each time. Combined with her runner-up finish in the 5,000 at 2023 NCAA indoors behind Tuohy, this is now three second-place NCAA finishes for Olemomoi in her career since transferring to Alabama from Iowa Western in 2022. But with Tuohy and Valby gone starting next fall, it might finally be her time to shine in 2024-25. did not get to speak to Olemomoi as an Alabama communications staffer declined to make her available for an interview.

Video interview with Colorado’s Bailey Hertenstein (3rd) and Ella Baran (7th)

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