Staples’ DeBalsi continues to grow her legacy
Updated 6:42 am, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Between those two events, DeBalsi torched the field one more time en route to earning Hearst Connecticut Media Girls Cross Country MVP. DeBalsi won the FCIAC, Class LL, State Open and New England championships this fall, all for a remarkable third straight season.
DeBalsi placed second at nationals as a sophomore and third as a junior — both good enough to be named All-American. She’s also captured Connecticut Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year in back-to-back years, and will likely make it three straight next month.
“Last season I had a pretty good season but I was a little disappointed,” DeBalsi said. “I definitely wanted to make this year my year type of thing. I didn’t push myself as much alone but I ran faster in my qualifier than I did last year.”
By her own high standards DeBalsi was a little disappointed in her performance during her junior season as illness and injury kept her from being her best.
The DeBalsi file
WHO: Hannah DeBalsi
RESUME: Finished fourth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional to qualify for the national race Dec. 12 in San Diego ... Finished first in the New England (18:20.9), State Open (18:08), Class LL (18:14) and FCIAC (14:05) races for the third consecutive season. ... Going to Stanford.
She hit the ground running in 2015, though, and is in prime position to strike at nationals.
Wreckers assistant Malcolm Watson once described the prodigy as a “once in a century” runner in Westport, and DeBalsi continues to cement her legacy as one of the best distance runners the state has seen.
DeBalsi spent the early part of the fall with college visits mixed in with the occasional dual meet.
Her first real action came at the FCIAC championships at Waveny Park in New Canaan, a place that she holds one of her many records. DeBalsi won that race by 40 seconds, setting the stage for another dominating season.
Staples would place fourth at the Class LL and the State Open behind DeBalsi’s wins. DeBalsi credited cross country coach Amanda Morgan and Watson for helping her become the runner she is.
“Literally I don’t know what would have happened to me if isn’t wasn’t for them,” DeBalsi said. “They have made me into the runner I am. Besides the obvious coaching part; mentally and spiritually I can talk to them about anything. They never put any pressure on me and always make sure I’m happy.”
DeBalsi finished fourth at the Northeast Regional qualifier last Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York to make it to nationals. The race takes place in San Diego and has brought the best out of DeBalsi the last two seasons.
“I would like to get (first team) All-American,” said DeBalsi, which would require a top five finish.
“Each race there is different but I think the course (fits my style). There are two hills and I’ve made up ground on the big downhill both races.”