Parker Valby ran eight 3200m races last season. She didn't break the 11 minute barrier once.
This past weekend, Valby not only ran a 14 second PR, but set a new FHSAA state meet record of 10:10 in the event.
The difference from last year? Confidence.
"A big thing with her is her self-esteem," Coach Britt Taylor said. "When she believes in herself and her abilities, the sky is the limit."
The East Lake junior took the race out hard from the gun, going out in a blistering 69 second first 400m. She shocked the stands when she went through the 1600m mark sub five minutes -- would she be able to hang on?
Valby answered that call from the audience with confidence. She clicked through the final four laps and came down the home stretch breaking Ashley Brasovan's 2007 meet record of 10:13.
"She went through a few things in her freshman and sophomore year, but I credit the North Port Cross Country race this past season. Once she crossed the line at that race, she couldn't believe she was capable of a performance that great," Taylor said.
Valby dominated this cross country season running a 17:46.90 at the North Port XC Invitational, then a 17:39 to win her region meet, and an 18:00 to place third at the 3A FHSAA Cross Country State Finals. A state title still remained on Valby's list of goals.
The junior came into this track season hungry and her performances showed her fire. She didn't take any race out tactical and raced to win every single race she was in.
At the FSU Relays we watched Valby take the field through a 5:03 1600m -- a time faster than many of the girls in that race had ever run their 1600m, let alone a 3200m. Although she came away second in a time of 10:24.03 at that race, Valby ran to win and helped the field to many personal records. Then at Florida Relays she pushed the pace with Valerie Lastra to run a new 1600m PR of 4:50.59. Year-over-year, Valby has taken her 3200m time down by nearly 50 seconds and her 1600m by 20 seconds.
"She is such a positive example. We have made an effort to keep her mileage low and let the progressions come naturally. Confidence is truly the key with her," Taylor said.