GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After finishing runner-up in 2022, Parker Valby has been crowned the 2023 NCAA Division I Individual National Champion in dominant fashion and led the Gators to the best finish in Florida cross country history.
Valby’s title is Florida’s first for cross country between both the men’s and women’s programs. Across all sports, 240 different Gators have claimed 353 NCAA individual titles. A Gator has now claimed at least one title in each possible sport that offers individual NCAA wins – cross country, golf, gymnastics, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field.
The victory also completes Valby’s perfect season as she has placed first in all four meets she has competed in this season including the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, SEC Cross Country Championships, NCAA South Regional and now the NCAA Cross Country Championships. As we’ve seen plenty of times this season Valby got out to a commanding lead. Half-way through the contest the Tampa, Fla., native captured an 18.4 second lead over a pack of seven runners that were all separated by less than a second. She sustained said lead through most of the race, ultimately crossing the finish line in 18:55.2. Her mark was 10.6 seconds faster than the second place finisher.
Valby’s finish, in addition to a top-40 scoring finishes by Flomena Asekol and Allison Wilson as well as well fought performances from Elise Thorner and Liina Winborn, landed the Gators in fifth place. The team finished one spot better than the best men’s placement of all time and completed the contest two spots better than the highest women’s finish. Asekol completed Saturday’s race eight spots ahead of her 2022 finish as she crossed the finish line in sixth earning six points for the Gators. Asekol was propelled to such a strong finish courtesy of her fastest kilometers coming in the first and final kilometer. Allison Wilson was the next Gator to add to the point total as her placement of 49th gave Florida 36 points. Wilson continued to pick through the pack as she improved her placement at every kilometer split throughout the course. Florida rounded out its scoring with Elise Thorner placing 75th (57 points) and Liina Winborn placing 202nd (168 points).
The team ended Saturday’s contest with a total of 268 points.