Staples winter preview: Girls indoor track hunting for FCIAC title
Updated 3:04 pm, Thursday, December 11, 2014
If momentum can carry from the spring to the winter, the Staples girls indoor track team should be in pretty good shape once it comes time for the postseason and crowning an FCIAC champion.
Expectations remain the same for the Wreckers, who return almost every significant contributor to last year's memorable run through the indoor and outdoor campaigns.
Staples was particularly strong in the indoor season, when it placed second at FCIACs, won the Class LL meet and missed out on a State Open title by one spot.
"We're always looking to improve," Staples coach Jesse McCray said. "That's our goal every year is to top our individual performances, and if they're good enough we can do what we do last year. The main thing is making sure everyone takes it upon themselves to be responsible and try to find something to improve upon."
As it has the last two years, the quest for hardware starts with standout junior Hannah DeBalsi. DeBalsi is still competing on the cross country circuit and will likely be held out until the postseason rolls around. DeBalsi set new records in the 3,200 meter race at the Class LL and State Open, and will score points in the 1,600 as well. DeBalsi went on to finish fourth in the 2-mile race at indoor nationals last March.
"Hannah is on a different schedule because she races longer," McCray said. "We're going to do what's best for her. She will begin competing when she and the coaches feel that she's ready."
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Katharine Smith and Elizabeth French are coming off strong cross country seasons and placed in the top eight in the 1,600 at FCIACs for the Wreckers last season.
Seniors Erica Hefnawy (1,000) and Olivia Wiener (sprints) will also provide important points on the track. The Wreckers lost Tyler Scanlin, who won the 600 at last year's State Open, to graduation.
In the field, Staples could score points with Elizabeth Knoll and Elizabeth van Dorsten. van Dorsten placed fourth in the high jump at the State Open last year, and the duo went 1-2 in the high jump at the FCIAC outdoor meet last May. Sophia Corde could make an impact in the pole vault for the Wreckers.
Darien cruised to its second straight FCIAC title last season, and the Wreckers hope to close the gap and possibly contend for their first indoor FCIAC championship since 1987.
"Every year the expectations are high because of the standards the boys have set," McCray said. "Before we won (outdoor) FCIACs, the girls were one of the top teams in the league in the state. Last year (the expectations) got a little higher than they've ever been."