East Lake's Parker Valby Finishes 2nd At NCAA D1 XC Nats

Parker Valby, a 2020 graduate of East Lake High School, just fell short on becoming the 2022 NCAA Division 1 cross country women's individual national champion, with a runner-up finish of 19:30 after being passed late by NC State's Katelyn Tuohy winning in a time of 19:27 on the Oklahoma State Unversity's home 6K course in Stillwater.

The University of Florida sophomore Valby took the lead by the 2K mark and built a nearly 12 second advantage on Tuohy and the rest of the field by the 4K mark. Valby, who had won her first SEC title earlier this season and came in with Tuohy among the top favorites, had her lead shrink and turn into a duel with Tuohy for the final kilometer that ultimately went to Tuohy.

The former Florida high school state record holder for 3200 meters in 10:10, Valby has only continue to elevate her running to the next level and nearly became only the second former high school star from the state to win the NCAA Division 1 women's cross country title. Tuohy was arguably one of the greatest high school runners in U.S. history, while Valby went under the radar nationally despite being a standout locally in Florida. 

She will have two more seasons of eligibility left to earn her first NCAA title as she was also the NCAA runner-up last spring outdoors in the 5K helping the Florida women to an NCAA team title. 

Betty Jo Springs from Bradenton, Florida and a Bayshore High School grad won the inaugural NCAA Division 1 women's race in 1981 and won a second title in 1983 while running for NC State University. 

Another Florida native had a stellar run for All-American honors in Newsome High School grad Bailey Hertenstein, finishing fifth as the junior for the University of Colorado with a time of 19:45.  It was a third All-American cross country finisher for Hertenstein, who previously earned those accolades while attending Indiana University in 2019 (31st place) and 2020 (28th place). 

The Florida State women were the lone in-state program competing in the race and finished 18th overall to exceed expectations after being ranked 26th coming into nationals and one of their top finishers was also a local high school star in Tallahassee in Alyson Churchill as the team's second finisher with a 79th place effort of 20:29.