DeBalsi leads Staples girls cross country to win
As Hannah DeBalsi came over the final hill of the 2 ½ mile course at Waveny Park in New Canaan she glanced down at her watch and stared down the finish line, cruising to victory and the sounds of applause surrounding her Tuesday.
It would be a full 92 seconds before those hands sounded again as DeBalsi finished with a time of 14:32, a full minute and a half over second-place finisher Gabi Galletta of Fairfield Warde.
“She’s a really fun kid to work with,” Staples coach Amanda Morgan said of her superstar runner. “Obviously she works really hard and is really talented, but she’s also very humble and funny, even talking about racing she’s not focused on winning she’s focused on racing hard. She’s the type that gets really excited when she has to race some of the better girls in big meets.”
That combination of fire and skill propelled Staples to a clean sweep in Tuesday’s cross country action over Warde, Fairfiled Ludlowe, New Canaan and Trinity Catholic.
“She brings the whole level of competitiveness up,” Morgan said of DeBalsi’s impact on the team. “Girls see her and think, ‘why shouldn’t I run as hard as I can?’ ”
The Wreckers’ Sussanah Martin came in fourth to help secure the win for Staples, made even more impressive by Morgan’s opinion Morgan her team was tired.
After racing last Saturday in New York on what she described as “rough terrain,” Morgan told her girls to start slow and try to pass during the wooded portion of the race, something they executed successfully.
Warde’s Galletta and Sarah Radziewicz came in after DeBalsi with just a second separating them. The Mustangs finished 3-1 on the day, falling only to Staples.
“I think overall it was good,” Warde coach Tim Foster said of the outcome Tuesday. “We knew that this was going to be a tough meet; Staples looked real strong and Ludlowe and New Canaan were both highly competitive, I think to come out 3-1 is a great thing.”
In addition to his two top-five finishers Foster said he was happy with the progress senior Catherine Jacobi has made throughout the year as the five, where she is continuing to grow.
“The one who continues to step up each meet is Catherine Jacobi,” Foster said. “She’s just running really well right now so it’s nice to see.”
Ludlowe defeated New Canaan but Falcons coach Christina Caron was focused on how her girls ran against rival Warde, barely losing 26-29.
“I’m really happy how the girls raced today,” Caron said. “We were hopeful we would beat New Canaan and that we would be close with Warde; that’s probably one of the closest meets we’ve ever had with them.”
The Falcons had two top-ten finishers in Keegan Simonsen (fifth) and Sarah Leatherwood (eighth).
New Canaan had a strong showing from its first two runners with Drew Davis finishing sixth and Amanda Dobbin 11th, but were unable to overtake any of the competing teams in the final scores.
“We did what I expected,” Rams coach Art Brown said. “We competed against three of the better teams in the league, we’re a young team and we had some good performances, hopefully we’ll improve next week.”
Trinity did not have any participants in the race.
INDIVIDUAL TOP TEN: 1. Hannah DeBalsi S 14:32; 2. Gabi Galletta FW 16:04; 3. Sarah Radziewicz FW 16:05; 4. Susannah Martin S 16:13; 5. Keegan Simonsen FL16:17; 6. Drew Davis NC 16:33; 7. Katharine Smith S 16:34; 8. Sarah Leatherwood FL 16:40; 9. Angelee Parmar S 16: 42; 10. Isabelle Radziewicz FW 16:46.