DeBalsi to tackle new challenge at New Balance nationals
Updated 5:01 pm, Tuesday, March 10, 2015
The date was March 16, 2014, the place was the Armory in New York City and the event was the 2-mile run at the New Balance indoor nationals. Staples' Hannah DeBalsi, then a sophomore, paced the field for most of the race before disaster struck.
After she was passed by eventual race-winner Tessa Barrett on the final lap, DeBalsi was in a pack of three runners battling for the runner-up spot. DeBalsi and Michigan's Audrey Belf were neck-and-neck for the position before the two collided and sent DeBalsi to the floor.
Without any time to react, DeBalsi dusted herself off and kept moving, comfortably finishing in fourth while Belf came home second.
"I was really upset afterward, I wasn't really sad for long afterwards, just angry," DeBalsi recalled. "I didn't have time to think about it until after the race. (Belf) obviously didn't mean to do it."
This weekend DeBalsi will return to the scene of the fall, but will tackle a different challenge. For the first time in her high school career, DeBalsi will be running in the 5,000 meter race, a distance not seen on the Connecticut event sheet.
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Race time is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. on Friday and DeBalsi is eager to test herself against the best distance runners in the country.
"I just want to try it," DeBalsi said. "Why not? It's a really fast race; (the field is) stacked; I don't think I've had the opportunity to get in such a fast 5K ever in high school so I just wanted to try it."
DeBalsi added that she plans to run the 2-mile "unless I feel horrible and can't get out of bed," a double that Barrett attempted and won both events last year. That race is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday.
DeBalsi has swept the state and regional circuit this winter. First winning three events to send Staples to its first FCIAC championship in 28 years, she won the 3,200 meter run at the Class LL and State Open title. On Feb. 26, DeBalsi won her third straight New England title with a time of 10:26.09.
"I'm pretty excited to try (the 5,000)," DeBalsi said. "I'm in a better shape to run a fast 5K than I have been to run other events this season. I'll actually be surrounded by fast people, so I won't be able to (lose focus)."
In the course of two months, DeBalsi will have run events ranging from 1,000 meters to 5,000.
`It's good to try different events especially because when you go out of your comfort zone you feel more comfortable when you go back into your comfort zone," DeBalsi said. "It's wise to force myself to go faster than I have in shorter events."
DeBalsi hopes for a better outcome should she run the 2-mile on Ides of March.
I definitely don't want to fall again," DeBalsi joked. "I want to finish better than I did last year because that was disappointing."
Wreckers senior Anthony Bravo will be participating in both the high and long jumps. The Wreckers boys 4x800 relay team will also compete, in addition to a number of other athletes running in Emerging Elite events.