Staples runner Hannah DeBalsi had a choice to make regarding where to spend her penultimate weekend as a junior. With New Balance Outdoor Nationals and the Brooks PR Invitational occurring the same day, DeBalsi chose the more competitive race.

Running against most of the top distance stars from across the country, DeBalsi placed third of 12 in the 2-mile run at the Brooks PR Shoreline Stadium in Seattle, Washington. She crossed the line in 10:03.24, about three seconds behind race-winner Anna Rohrer (9:59:96) and runner-up Destiny Collins (10:00.90).

Working to get back to top speed for virtually the entire season after suffering an injury, the increased competition brought out the best in DeBalsi, who ran her best time of the season in the event.

“I was really happy after the race because I knew I was in good shape,” DeBalsi said. “Racing against these girls it’s easy to get dragged to a fast time, and I get more competitive when there are fast runners around me.”

The entire field stayed in the lead pack for the first half of the race before runners began to drop. The pace quickened as the race went along, and DeBalsi managed to stay among the leaders the whole time.

“I didn’t really have a time goal,” DeBalsi said. “I wanted to run as fast I could; ideally close to 10 (minutes) flat.”

Indiana’s Rohrer and California’s Collins broke away before the bell lap and raced neck-and-neck for the win before Rohrer inched ahead on the final straight. DeBalsi was close by and comfortably came home third.

“(Rohrer) is an amazing runner,” DeBalsi said. “Honestly I’m impressed because I thought she was more of a cross country runner. She’s a front-runner and besides her I didn’t really know (who was going to go out fast).”

Next Saturday DeBalsi will return to the west coast to compete in the 3,000 meter race at the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon.

“I was more focused because I knew the girls that would be running this race,” DeBalsi said. “It will be exciting to run (at Oregon).”

Last season, DeBalsi won the 2-mile at outdoor nationals (10:09.08) by 13 seconds and came in second at Brooks (9:55.05). She missed the 2-mile at indoor nationals through illness but rebounded to deliver her best performance against the best competition.