State Open girls: DeBalsi wins 3,200, 2nd in 1,600
Updated 11:12 am, Tuesday, June 9, 2015
NEW BRITAIN -- Almost immediately after cruising to another State Open title in the 3,200-meter run, Staples junior Hannah DeBalsi was approached by a stranger holding a book. It turned out to be a yearbook from another runner wanting her to sign it.
Just another day in the life of one of the best distance runners in the country.
In addition to winning the 3,200, DeBalsi placed second in the 1,600 and helped Staples (47 points) finish third in a tight team battle. Tolland (52) became the first school to win Open titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in the same season, Windsor was second (50) and Wilbur Cross (46) finished fourth.
In the 1,600, Wilbur Cross' Danae Rivers (4:48.33) sat behind DeBalsi (4:49.67) for the first two laps before pulling around her right before the bell lap. Her strong kick allowed her to win by a second, but DeBalsi still crossed the line with a personal best time.
"I like racing Danae, we always push each other," DeBalsi said. "It's a little frustrating I feel good at that pace, but I have no turnover. She kicks and (pulls away); it's good because she pulls me to a fast time."
Later in the afternoon, DeBalsi (10:28.76) breezed to a win in the 3,200, pulling away quickly and finishing ahead of Tolland's Caitlin Swanson, winning by 14 seconds.
Danbury freshman Leah Sarkisian placed second in the 800. The Hatters also earned a second in the 4x100 as Saintphanie Porcenat, Bridget Chiaravalle, Zyniah Bunn and Niema Riley clocked in at 48.99. Riley placed in a tie for third place in the 100 and a capped a busy day with a fourth in the 200.
"This wind was really tough," Riley said. "I was able to place in all of my events, so I was happy about that. Coach (Nick Fraticelli) really work us to our potential; if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be able to run the time's I've been running."
In the discus throw, Shelton's Samantha Stevens claimed second place (115-02), while Greenwich's Sarah Cicchetti was sixth (112-00). Cicchetti, who injured her pushing ankle last week right before the championship, placed ninth in the shot put.
"I was pretty upset about (the injury), it was really rough," said Cicchetti, who won the shot put at the State Open and New Englands during the indoor season. "A lot of it is focusing on adjusting my technique around my foot and trying to not to put too much weight on it."
Darien's Madeline Schneider defended her championship in the pole vault, clearing 11 feet. Schneider also won the event during the indoor season. The Blue Wave placed 17th as a team after winning the meet last year.
"My coach told me I've won a total of 10 FCIAC, Class and Open titles," Schneider said. "I said OK, that's cool to end my senior year knowing that."
Schneider will make an improbable transition from pole vaulting to the Army, as she will attend West Point for basic training in less than three weeks.
"We're going to learn how to march, how to salute, what the different ranks are, how to shoot a gun; all those things," Schneider said. "They have a dedication to better themselves in every way."
Staples senior Olivia Weiner missed out on defending her javelin title by two inches, but settled for a personal best throw of (133-06). Weiner (45.99) finished third in the 300 hurdles out of the second heat. Teammate Reece Schachne took sixth in the javelin.
"It was great to be able to PR in the javelin," Wiener said. "In that second heat it was just me racing against the clock."
In the meet's opening event, the 4x800, Ridgefield's quartet of Katherine Jasminski, Hannah Flemming, Kelsey Bordash and Julia Hergenrother crossed the line in fourth in 9:35.51.
Staples' Elizabeth Knoll was the last high jumper standing, clearing 5-07 to set a personal best to win the title. Knoll rebounded from placing 19th in the long jump.
"It felt so incredible," Knoll said. "I've been working through indoor and outdoor to get a PR. The past three meets I cleared 5-06, so after clearing it this time I thought this is where I wanted to make my mark."
The meet was the final one of the season in Connecticut, with New Englands set for Saturday in Saco, Maine.