1. Hannah DeBalsi, Staples, junior
Events: 1,600, 3,200
Why watch: DeBalsi is the defending 3,200 meter champion and finished second in the 1,600 last spring at the Open. The junior distance runner is coming off an excellent Class LL performance where she ran in the low 4:50 and 10:30 range unchallenged. She’ll be faced by Danae Rivers of Cross in the 1,600. Both ran under 4:50 last spring. DeBalsi owns the 3,200 state record of 10:10.26, which she set in 2013.
2. Danae Rivers, Cross, junior
Events: 800, 1,600, 4×400
Why watch: One of the few athletes who will be tripling and has a chance to score 30 points for her team. Rivers is the defending 800 and 1,600 champion. Last week at the Class L meet she ran a meet record in the 800 of 2:08.66. Rivers has a chance to break the state record in the 800 of 2:07.19 set in 1992 by Liz Mueller of Waterford. Depending on conditions, there is always the possibility of breaking 1,600 record of 4:42.60. Rivers is also a game-changer in 4×4 as she serves as the anchor.
3. Spencer Brown, Wilton, senior
Events: 800, 1,600,4×400
Why watch: The Georgetown-bound senior is listed in the 800, 1,600 and anchor of the 4×4. Not sure if he’ll be running all three, but he impressed last week at Class L. Brown ran meet records in the 800 and 1,600. The 800 time of 1:50.88, put him top 10 in the nation. Told he will be focusing more on 1,600 at State Open. The state overall record in 1,600 is 4:07.26, which is doable for him. Brown finished runner-up in both events last year.
4. Simeon Okoro, Weston, senior
Events: 400, 4×400
Why watch: The outstanding sprinter, who is headed to the University of Virginia for soccer, is the top seed in the 400 (49.12) and defending Open champ. He’ll be challenged for the win by a handful of individuals but has tremendous closing speed that is fun to watch. Okoro is also listed as the anchor for the 4×4, which is another race that could come down to the wire.
5. Gabby Curtis, Cross, junior
Events: 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4×400
Why watch: The junior is the top seed in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Curtis has come on strong this spring as she set a meet record in the 300 hurdles last week in the Class L meet running 44.16. She has a chance to break the state records in 100 (14.16) and 300 (43.48) if conditions are right. She also runs the third leg on the 4×4 that has a chance to win.
6. Joe Fogarasi, Windham, senior
Events: pole vault
Why watch: Defending State Open champion, Fogarasi has a chance to win and break the overall state record of 16-03.50 and Open record of 15-06. He’s coming off a Class M record win of 15-09 and if conditions are right, can go over 16-feet. He’ll be challenged closely by a handful of vaulters.
7. Niema Riley, Danbury, senior
Events: 100, 200, 4×100
Why watch: Senior is listed as the top seed in the 100 (12.32) and second in the 200 (25.40) and anchor on the top time in the 4×100 relay (48.99). Consistent sprinter who has a chance to score big points for the Hatters.
8. Jaliyah White, Hillhouse, senior
Events: 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump
Why watch: A workhorse, White has a chance to score major points at the State Open as the senior plans to triple. White, who won the 300 meter hurdles last year, tying the state record of 43.48, has a chance to win and go for the record again. She’ll be challenged by No. 1 seed Curtis of Cross. White is seeded third in the triple (35-11) and eighth in the 100 (15.68) hurdles.
9. Mark Doyley, Weaver, sophomore
Events: 100, 200
Why watch: Just a sophomore, Doyley is the top seed in the 100 (10.84) and 200 (21.52) dash. Doyley, who was the top seed in the 55 dash during indoor, suffered a cramp toward the end of the race, ending his bid at a title and forcing him to miss the 300. He has a good shot at redemption on Monday and could win his first Open titles.
10. Paul May, Bloomfield, senior
Events: Shot put, disc
Why watch: May is in a stacked group of throwers that any given day, someone new could emerge as the winner. May heads into the Open with the top throw of 166-6 in the disc and is seeded fifth in the shot put (51-03.50). He’s proven he can unleash big throws as he placed second at State Open indoor with a throw of 53-08.