After an undefeated cross country season in the state of Connecticut and a second place finish at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif. last month, Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi was awarded Wednesday morning as the CT Gatorade XC Runner of the Year.
The sophomore is the first ever cross country girl runner from Staples to receive the award.
“I knew it existed (the award) but I didn’t think about it (during the season,” DeBalsi said. “But it’s a nice award to get.”
“It was really nice to see after Hannah’s successful season this year her get that award, especially since I know cross country is her favorite season,” Staples head coach Amanda Parrish said. “I know for that reason it meant a lot to her.”
DeBalsi won the FCIAC Championships, Class LL title, State Open and New England Championships. Her time at the LL meet was a course record, 17:41. At the NE Championships in Manchester, N.H. her time of 17:15.8 was another course record as well. She finished third at the Northeast Foot Locker Regional meet in New York in November. Her time at the FL nationals was 17:26.
“It was better than I could have imagined,” DeBalsi said of her season. “I had goals coming in but I never imagine it’d end up like this.”
Beside her athletic ability, DeBalsi has a 4.14 GPA and volunteers at the Fairfield Public Library and road races.
“When I was filling out (her Gatorade application) it was kind of cool to see not only is she an amazing runner, but I’m also getting to report she’s an amazing student,” Parrish said.
DeBalsi was also consistently ranked in the Top 10 nationally for girl high school runners. She led Staples to a second place finish at the FCIAC Championships as a team and third place at the State Open. She also aided the Wreckers to another program-best finish at New Englands where Staples took eighth.
Parrish said it was a benefit not only statistically to have a runner like DeBalsi, but her presence helped her teammates.
“… I think maybe she inspired some of the younger runners to have higher goals then they might have other wise,” Parrish said.
DeBalsi is the second straight cross country runner from Staples to receive the honor. Last fall, Henry Wynne won the award for the boys.
DeBalsi will compete in the indoor track season this winter for Staples.