Three days after collapsing during a college cross-country meet at Johnson County Park, a runner from Wilmington (Ohio) College died in an Indianapolis hospital.
Jenna Parlette, a junior from Miamisburg, Ohio, fell unconscious near the finish line during Saturday’s eight-team Grizzly Invitational. She died Tuesday evening at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, having never regained consciousness.
A standout throughout her college career, Parlette, 20, was leading the race when she suffered a grand mal or tonic-clonic seizure, according to the Dayton Daily News. The paper also reported that Parlette had epilepsy and an irregular heartbeat but refused to let either stop her from running.
“I love cross-country,” she told the Dayton newspaper in 2009. “I absolutely adore it.”
Parlette, 20, was attended onsite by athletics trainers before being rushed to the hospital. She had been in critical condition upon arrival.
Franklin College President Jay Mosely contacted Wilmington President Jim Reynolds on Wednesday to express condolences. Although first-responders did all they could at the scene, Moseley said, Parlette’s death has shaken the Franklin College community, as well.
“We were fully and appropriately staffed to host the event,” Moseley said. “The only conclusion to be drawn is that she suffered a serious medical incident toward the end of the race. That happened, and our folks responded. It’s natural we’ll review all of that. There’s a procedure for that.
“At this point everybody who cared for her, our entire cross-country team and coach (Paul Sargent), are just overwhelmed by the tragic reality that she passed away three days later.”
Wilmington, a liberal arts college with an enrollment of just more than 1,000 in Wilmington, Ohio, conducted a celebration of life service for Parlette on Thursday.
“Jenna was a wonderful student who left an indelible impression on many who she knew on campus,” Reynolds said in a statement. “We all grieve for a life lost so early.”
Terry Rupert, Wilmington’s vice president for athletics administration, had taught Parlette as a student in class and called her death “a great personal loss.”
“We lost a true treasure, a real sweetheart,” Rupert said. “She was a joy to be around and a joy to watch on the track and cross-country course. Jenna was a big part of our athletics family at (Wilmington). She will be profoundly missed.”
An accomplished runner who competed in cross-country as well as track and field, Parlette was a five-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference performer in both sports. She was named to the All-Great Lakes Region in 2012 for cross-country and is Wilmington’s school-record holder in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs in track.
An honors student, Parlette also was an Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection and earned All-Academic recognition from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
“She seemed like such a tremendous student-athlete,” Mosely said. “It’s such a tragic loss.”