EUGENE—After Parker Valby won the 10000 on Thursday night in a meet record 31:46.09, there was a sense of confidence that the NCAA champion this academic year in cross country, the indoor 3000 & 5000, and the outdoor 10000 would add to her totals with the outdoor 5000 Saturday afternoon.

Under pleasant conditions on the final day of competition at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field, she and Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi broke away from the field in a repeat of Thursday’s 10000 until Valby broke away past the 3400-meter mark to win going away in a collegiate and meet record 14:52.18.

She crossed the line and held up six fingers, signifying the five championships she won in the 2023-24 academic year and the 5000 title she first won last year and successfully defended.

The previous meet record was 15:03.12, set by Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech in 2008, while Valby set the collegiate record of 14:52.79 indoors in March at the NCAA championships in Boston.

Olemomoi nearly paid the price of going with Valby. She was almost caught by Colorado’s Bailey Hertenstein, but she hung on to take second in 15:10.04, with Hertenstein third in 15:10.98.

Parker Valby completes her double by winning the 5,000m, in CR, photo by Paul Merca

“It met my expectations,” Valby said. “I got the job done, got the most points (20 for winning the 5000 and 10000) I could for my team and a PB, so it’s awesome.”

When asked if she was disappointed in coming close to the Olympic standard of 14:52.00, she said she wasn’t too concerned until the last 40 meters or so when she saw the clock and leaned at the line.

While she doesn’t have the Olympic standard, her time and victory will certainly move her up in the Road to Paris quota list.

Valby will go down in collegiate history as the first woman to break 15 minutes for 5000 and 31 minutes for 10000.

WOO, PIG SOOEY!

Between Valby’s win in the 5000 and Grace Stark’s win in the 100 hurdles over Washington State’s Maribel Caicedo, the Florida Gators put themselves in a prime position to possibly win the NCAA championship if everything went right, and everything went wrong for Arkansas.

Florida held the first-day lead with 26 points, while Arkansas only had two points from Sydney Thorvaldson’s seventh-place finish in the 10000 on Thursday.

In fact, entering the meet’s final event, the 4 x 400 relay, Florida had a 53-49 lead over the Razorbacks, minutes after Valby won the 5000. So, the four women running the 4 x 400 relay knew what to do: finish third or better.

A Razorback third-place finish was never going to happen, scoring 29 points in the 400m off a first-ever 1-2-3-4 sweep in any NCAA event, scoring the most points by either a men’s or women’s team.

Nickisha Pryce won the 400m in a collegiate record and world-leading time of 48.89, which also breaks Lorraine Fenton’s Jamaican national record of 49.30 set in 2000.

Razorbacks Rule! photo by Paul Merca

Kaylyn Brown became the fastest 19-year-old in the world, finishing in second place with a time of 49.13. This time equals the previous collegiate record set by Razorback Britton Wilson last year.

Amber Anning clocked 49.59 for third, just off her career best of 49.51, and Rosey Effiong joined her teammates with a sub-50 second time in fourth place with a 49.72.

After Valby’s win in the 5000, the Gators could only watch as they did not have a team in the 4 x 400.

The Razorbacks ran a collegiate record 3:17.96 to put an exclamation point on their team title, with Tennessee second at 3 23.32 and Texas third at 3:23.68.

The time bettered the old collegiate record of 3:21.92 that the Hogs set when they won the NCAA regionals on their home track two weeks earlier.

In addition to the 39 points from the 400 and 4 x 4, they finished fourth in the 4 x 100, got a third-place finish from Rachel Glenn in the 400 hurdles, a fifth from Laura Taborda in the steeplechase, a fifth from Destiny Huven in the 100 hurdles; and a sixth in the 800 from Sanu Jallow.

After getting the Powerade shower from his team while accepting the championship team trophy, Razorback coach Chris Johnson said, “This is the Arkansas way. We could be strong in one event this year and another one next year. We want to push; we do not want to settle. We want to push to the next, and having the right staff, athletes, and attitudes creates something special.”

“We talked about it and thought we could run a 3:18. If you put all the PRs together, it’s a 3:19, and we are fortunate enough to have the statistician in Shawn Price to give us all those great times. Our goal was 3:16 and 3:17 internally, but obviously, we aren’t going to put that stress on them. We need help to do that as a team to push us along. Tennessee and the other teams gave us a challenge. We played it safe with the handoffs because the team title was on the line.”

COUGS VERSUS EVERYBODY

If you pay attention to any of Washington State University’s athletic teams’ social media posts, you’ll notice the hashtag #CVE prominently displayed.

Cougs Versus Everybody.

For the first time in program history, Washington State qualified two women for the finals in any running event at the NCAA championships, when both Maribel Caidedo of Ecuador and Michaela De Mello of Brazil made the finals of the 100 hurdles out of Thursday’s semifinals.

With conference realignment coming next academic year, it would have been poetic justice if Caicedo and De Mello had gone 1-2, representing Washington State and the Pac-12 Conference.

Maribel Caidedo, 100m hurdles, NCAA, photo by Paul Merca / Paul Merca Blogspot

 

Caicedo, who had the second fastest time in Thursday’s qualifying at 12.52 behind Florida’s Grace Stark, got a solid start, while Stark got a better start, leading through the first hurdle.

Caicedo had to play catch-up, drawing even with USC’s Jasmine Jones and Central Florida’s Rayniah Jones going over the eighth hurdle. From 12.59 to 12.59, Caicedo got second over Rayniah Jones.

USC’s Jasmine Jones finished fourth in 12.64 but came back an hour later to win the 400 hurdles.

Reflecting on her race, Caicedo said, “It was a bit tough. (That said), it’s great to be competing at this level because I didn’t imagine even considering competing with people of this caliber two years ago.”

After the NCAAs, she’ll continue to train in Pullman and possibly go to Europe to race before the Olympics, though she may return home to Ecuador.

De Mello, who finished seventh, was slightly disappointed that she would not meet the Olympic standard, but she would have to race in the Brazilian championships and get the mark of 12.77.

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