Local runner dies after collapsing in race

A Miamisburg cross country standout who for years ran with epilepsy and an irregular heartbeat died Tuesday, three days after collapsing at a college meet in Indiana over the weekend.

Jenna Parlette, a junior at Wilmington College, was leading her race Saturday at Franklin University and was close to the finish line when she suffered a grand mal or tonic-clonic seizure and collapsed, according to Terry Rupert, director of athletics at the college.

The 20-year-old never regained consciousness and died late Tuesday afternoon at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital.

“Jenna was a wonderful student who left an indelible impression on many who she knew on campus. We all grieve for a life lost so early,” Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds said in a statement.

Parlette, a 2011 Miamisburg graduate, was captain of the high school cross country team her senior year.

After learning of her collapse, Miamisburg Principal Craig Morris said Parlette, “Has been an inspiration to all of us here at Miamisburg through her athletic and academic career.”

Parlette was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy in the sixth grade and an irregular heartbeat during the summer of 2008.

In 2009, she told the Dayton Daily News that her medical conditions didn’t keep her from her passion. “I love cross country,” she said. “I absolutely adore it.”

Two scary episodes on the high school track threatened to derail her running career.

While running in the Lions Club race in Miamisburg in 2008 she collapsed on the course. A doctor and nurse running behind her performed CPR.

She was fitted for a pacemaker, which got her back on the track until it erroneously shocked her heart during a race her sophomore year.

“Someone compared it to being kicked by a donkey,” Parlette said. “It was so much worse. I screamed bloody murder. It was a horrible pain.”

But a simple adjustment to the defibrillator was all that was needed.

In a prepared statement, Rupert characterized Parlette’s death as 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 … She will be profoundly missed.”

Parlette left her mark on the record books at Wilmington College. She held records in the 5,000-meter run, 10,000-meter record and indoor track and field record in the mile. Among her accomplishments, Parlette was a five-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference designee in track and cross country and named All-Great Lakes Region after the 2012 cross country season.

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