Ostberg, DeBalsi win New Engalnd titles
MANCHESTER -- Runners from all across New England descended upon Wickham Park Saturday afternoon for the regional championships. Connecticut, which had the home-course advantage, took full advantage in stamping its authority as the best state in the region.
Darien's Alex Ostberg and Staples' Hannah DeBalsi maintained their superiority over their respective divisions, each cruising to individual championships. Ostberg (15:07) finished ahead of Hall's Ari Klau (15:39) by 32 seconds, while DeBalsi (17:58) finished 25 seconds ahead of New Fairfield's Gabrielle Richichi (18:23).
Although Ostberg came home nine seconds slower than last week's course record-setting performance, he was delighted to get the win in his final event at Wickham Park.
"It was my last race in Connecticut," Ostberg said "It's special and it's important to savior these meets and these experiences because you're only going to get them once."
Danbury (144) finished a distant second to Rhode Island's La Salle Academy (67) for the team title, while Ridgefield (145) placed third and Staples (154) finished fourth. The top 25 finishers and top six teams from each state's Open event qualified for the New England championships.
"I felt really good actually, I'm disappointed because I wasn't really focused," said DeBalsi, who didn't compete in an event until the FCIAC championships last month. "I should be grateful for everything, especially starting the season not running."
Ridgefield had a pair of runners finish in the top five as Austin Gilbert (15:46) and Gabriel Altopp (15:48) came home third and fourth, respectively.
"For me I usually go out slow, which is my downfall," Altopp said. "Today I pushed it a lot harder in the beginning and I think that made a huge difference. Going out I started fourth or fifth and I was able to hold onto that with the help of Austin.
Connecticut had seven of the top 10 boys runners, including four from the FCIAC. Ostberg's teammate Michael Noonan (16:01) finished eighth.
"It's fantastic, we've been training together all year," Ostberg said. "It's so great to see him experience the same success as me. He's only a junior; he's got another year to tear it up."
The FCIAC showed its mettle in the team competition as well, claiming the Nos. 2-4 positions. Staples' Oliver Hickson finished 12th in 16:10 while Wilton's Spencer Brown finished 14th in 16:11. Ridgefield's Kristian Sogaard (16:15) cross the line in 20th.
"I'm a little disappointed," Staples coach Laddie Lawrence said. "I thought we could at least be third and if we ran like we did last week we could have got second. I was pleased to see the FCIAC so well."
Richichi, who finished 14th at the State Open last week as a result of an illness, held off a host of runners for second place in the girls race.
"It was definitely tough there were people on me the whole time," Richichi said. "I think I accomplished my goal. I wanted to bounce back from last week and get closer to a PR. It definitely felt fast."