DeBalsi 12th at cross country nationals
Updated 5:01 pm, Saturday, December 12, 2015
Staples senior Hannah DeBalsi placed 12th out of the 40 best cross country runners in the country as the group convened at San Diego’s Balboa Park on Saturday for the Foot Locker national championships. It was a third straight appearance in the event for DeBalsi, who was also named All-American in the sport for a third consecutive season.
Weini Kelati of Leesburg, Virginia won the event in 17:09.7, just ahead of Peoria, Illinois’ Maryjeanne Gilbert (17:10.6). DeBalsi clocked in at 17:49.8, close to what she ran (17:47) in placing fifth in 2014.
“Weini just took off from the start and it was a much faster race in general,” DeBalsi said. “The plan was to sit back and pick people off, and I did that but I lost a bunch of places at the end.”
DeBalsi admitted to being under the weather during the week, which may have affected her dropping into 12th late in the race after placing in the top five the last two seasons. Despite the setback, DeBalsi continued her stellar season with another All-American finish.
“I did not feel good from the (opening) gun,” DeBalsi said. “I was hoping to feel better for today but I didn’t. I’m disappointed because my entire season based was around this one day.”
The top four runners in the race blew away from the pack from the outset and were left to battle it out for the championship. DeBalsi remained in a pack of runners vying for sixth spot, and would fluctuate between sixth and 12th for most of the race.
“I didn’t have an extra gear today,” DeBalsi said. “I have a feeling I would held my ground better; but this type of race the smallest thing can push you back.”
The performance put a bow on the season that included a sweep of FCIAC, Class LL, State Open and New England titles. DeBalsi finished fourth at the regional qualifier two weeks ago in The Bronx, New York.
“If I take a step back I’m a little bit more grateful for the opportunity,” DeBalsi said. “I’m looking forward to redeeming myself in (indoor track).”