As the weather drops and the leaves begin to fall, it can only mean one thing: it’s cross-country season.
This weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the University of Virginia hosted the Division 1 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Coming into the race, all the talk was around last year’s winner, Katelyn Tuohy of North Carolina (NC) State, and last year’s runner-up, Parker Valby of the University of Florida.
The two juniors had been battling it out all season, consistently placing first and second throughout the season, making them the undoubted favorites coming into the meet today.
Tuohy, the winner of the previous two editions of the NCAA Cross Country Championships, was looking to continue her victory streak. Along with her NCAA Cross Country titles, she boasts three other NCAA titles from both indoor and outdoor track.
The women’s race started out with a blazing pace, with Parker Valby leading a large group through the 1k mark in 2:54.10.
Valby decided to go for it, making her move, and broke away from the group with a surge in pace. She came through the 2k mark in 6:04.10, over eight seconds ahead of the chasing group, led by defending champion Tuohy, which came through in 6:12.90.
Valby was relentless and didn’t let up her pace, growing her gap out to over 18 seconds as she came through the 3k mark in 9:14.90. Tuohy no longer led the chasing group, but Hilda Olemomoi of Alabama brought the group through 3k in 9:33.20.
Coming through the 4k mark, Valby was consistent with her pace, with no signs of letting up. The chasing group began to increase the pace, but Valby still managed to increase her lead slightly to over 20 seconds.
With one kilometer to go, Valby’s lead came down to 18 seconds, but with the finish getting ever closer, it seemed unlikely the chasers would make up the time.
Valby took her first NCAA Cross Country title, finishing the 6k course in 18:55.20.
Race favorite Tuohy would finish off the podium, placing fifth after crossing the line in 19:23.00.
Completing the podium was standout freshman Doris Lemngole of Alabama, placing second in 19:05.70, and Notre Dame’s senior Olivia Markezich, completing the course in 19:10.0.
The team competition was a tight battle for the top spot between NC State and Northern Arizona (NAU). However, NC State managed to hold off NAU by a single point to take the win with 123 points. Oklahoma State rounded out the team podium with a cumulative score of 156.