Staples High's girls and boys cross country teams ran away with victories over all competing teams in their meet on Tuesday, Oct. 9, in Westport. Fairfield Ludlowe, among the schools in the race, earned a trio of team victories on the boys' side and a victory in the girls' race.

The girls, led by first-place overall finisher Hannah DeBalsi, defeated Ludlowe 16-47 and Stamford 15-50. Brien McMahon and Bridgeport Central participated with individuals but did not have enough runners to compete in team scoring.

In the boys' race, Staples -- led by second-place finisher Oliver Hickson -- defeated Ludlowe 19-44, Stamford 23-38, Central 15-50, and McMahon 20-41.

Ludlowe's boys edged Stamford 27-28, topped Central 15-50, and beat McMahon 24-27. The Ludlowe girls beat Stamford 21-38.

DeBalsi set the pace on the girls' course in a time of 15:39.4 to lead a one-two-three Staples finish. The runner-up was Erica Hefnawy, in 17:10.10, and in third was Elisabeth French in 17:36.10.

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Rounding out the top seven for the Wreckers were: 5. Caroline Koenig, 18:20.00; 7. Erin Munley, 18:26.30; 8. Angelee Parmar, 18:27.10; and 9. Katherine Smith, 18:28.50.

Ludlowe had a pair of runners in the top 10 as Kelly Walsh placed sixth in 18:22.40 and Anna Leatherwood was 10th in 18:37.70.

In the boys' race, McMahon's Eric Van Der Els pulled away to capture the top spot in a time of 16:16.70. Hickson was second in 16:30.70. The Wreckers took the six through nine spots behind the efforts of Jake Berman (17:32.70), Chase Gornbein (17:33.10), Peter Elkind (17:33.40) and Victor Kolbin (17:44.40). Will McDonald placed 11th in a time of 18:03.90, and Luis Cruz rounded out the Staples leading seven by coming in 12th in 18:10.00. The Wrecker boys had a dozen runners among the top 20 overall.

Ludlowe's fastest performer was fifth-place finisher Josh Archer (17:30.30).

"I was very pleased with the results, it's where we had hoped we would be," Ludlowe Coach Christina Caron said. "They had good individual races."

The outcome was particularly rewarding for, among others, French. The third-place finisher edged out McMahon's Kristin Burnham (fourth in 17:45.30), a friendly rival from recent meets.

"It was a really exciting race because Kristin is awesome runner. We've been close to each other. I was really excited to try to catch her," French said.

The race served, as Staples coach Laddie Lawrence described it, as a "stepping stone."

The teams are gearing up for big end-of-campaign races with the Wickham Invitational this weekend, followed by the FCIAC Championships next Thursday.

Elkind said the runners approached the race as a workout to gear up for the postseason. "We kind of threw some surges in there," Elkind said.

DeBalsi said the runners used the race to prepare physically and mentally for the more meaningful meets.

"Saturday and Thursday, everybody's going to be pushing," said Lawrence, speaking of the top competition across the board that awaits the Staples runners.

"We tried to go pretty easy today because we want to save some energy for the bigger meets," Munley said. "I'm really excited because we have such a good top-seven pack."