Parker Valby On Her 27th All-American Finish At NCAA's

University of Florida redshirt freshman Parker Valby has had to face a lot of adversity over the last two years since setting the Florida high school 3200 state record in 10:10 as a junior at East Lake High School at the 2019 FHSAA State Meet.

Her senior year of cross country (2019 fall), she missed the first half of the season due to a hip injury and was able to make a strong late comeback to still grab state runner-up in the 4A race.

Parker Valby breaking the Florida 3200 meter state meet record and overall state record in 2019 winning the 3A girls 3200 race in 10:10. 

Her entire outdoor track season for her senior year of high school with the opportunity to build upon and potentially lower her 10:10 state record time was completely wiped away with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down sports and the world for the spring of 2020.

Her first year at the University of Florida did not have a turn of good fortune with NCAA's pushing back the cross country season from the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021. At that point of her freshman year when competition resumed, Valby was dealing with injuries and ended up having to shut down her spring season of racing as well no matter if it was cross country, indoor track, or outdoor track all contested in a short span last spring at the college level.

Despite not getting a full summer of training in, Valby showed her resolve and resiliency to quickly emerge once finally healthy during the 2021 cross country season to ascend to become the top runner for the Florida Gators as a redshirt freshman.

Her season with a late start building into the national race included a 29th place finish at the FSU Pre-National Meet on October 15th for her season debut, a 4th place finish at the SEC Championships, and a runner-up finish at the NCAA D1 South Regional to qualify individually for the national race with her team finishing 5th as a squad and unable to move on with her. 

Despite racing in her very first national meet, Valby showed no signs of experience lacking on the big stage on Saturday at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee shooting to the front of the field leading the front pack thru the first 3000 kilometers.

She, unfortunately, got tripped up a few times in the race and even took a spill around the 4K mark, but was able to still recover and finish home with a 27th place effort to earn NCAA All-American honors with a time of 19:50 on the 6K course. Only 9 seconds off her personal and season-best time of 19:41 from the NCAA D1 South Regional. 

It was the best NCAA XC Championships finish by any female distance runner from the University of Florida since 2009. After going two years from competing at a season-ending championship race, Valby is looking ahead to staying healthy and enjoying uninterrupted training for consecutive seasons ahead with 3 years of cross country and 4 years of track (indoor/outdoor) eligibility still remaining to run under coach Chris Solinsky for the Gators. 

Her legacy on the high school scene was felt last spring when the likes of Caroline Wells and Caroline Lehman were chasing after her 3200 state record, which Wells broke the 3200 state record twice in the 2021 outdoor season including by only fractions of a second the first time and Lehman set the two-mile state record. Valby certainly set a high bar to push those current high school runners to make history.