*Editor’s note: As of Tuesday evening, Tessa Barrett withdrew from the Penn Relays 3K race to spend time with her father who’s battling an illness, according to reports and milesplit.com’s Twitter.
WESTPORT>> Thursday evening Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi will get her first crack at the 3,000 meters, a distance she’s never raced before.
She’ll do so on one of the more competitive running stages this outdoor track season.
DeBalsi will compete at the historic Penn Relays at Franklin Field, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa.
“I don’t think the distance will be much of a factor since it’s basically the same as the 2 mile,” DeBalsi said. “If anything, it will be easier to grasp mentally. I’m looking forward to the race and the meet in general.”
DeBalsi, a sophomore, who is coming off a highly successful indoor season, will be challenged Thursday (start time set for 5:45 p.m.). Listed running in the event is senior Claire Howlett of Westhill and senior Tessa Barrett of Clarks Summit, Pa.
DeBalsi and Barrett went head to head in December at the Foot Locker XC Championships in San Diego, and most recently in March in the 2 mile at the Indoor New Balance Nationals, with Barrett winning both titles.
“I’m really excited about Penn and I know Hannah is too,” Staples girls’ assistant coach Amanda Morgan said. “She’s excited to race Tessa and try out the 3K.”
Still early in the season, DeBalsi explained she’s hoping for a fast time, but doesn’t have anything specific in mind.
The Connecticut outdoor state record for the 3K is listed at 9:21.0, set in 1981 by Ceci Hopp.
“Well, I know I still don’t have that last gear for a kick, so I’ll probably have to take it out hard from the gun,” DeBalsi said. “I know it’ll take my best to beat her (Barrett) and I’m planning on giving it my all.”
The Wreckers are also sending a 4×400 relay composed of Erica Hefnawy, Tyler Scanlin, Olivia Wiener and Kathryn Lieder. They will race on Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
DeBalsi receives invite to Brooks PR
While the outdoor season is far from over, DeBalsi already has something to look forward to at the end of the season.
This month DeBalsi became the first female runner from Staples to get a “Golden Ticket” to the Brooks PR Invitational on June 21 at Renton Memorial Stadium in Seattle, Wash.
The Brooks PR is a meet that brings together some of the best high school runners in the country for one meet.
“It’s exciting for the program for many reasons, but one big reason that stands out to me is that so often East Coast and West Coast runners are separated; they know about each other, but even at nationals aren’t always competing at the same meets. This should be a really great opportunity for Hannah to race against some girls she’s never had the chance to face before,” Morgan said.
DeBalsi said she received her official invite at the beginning of a practice, which arrived in a white box. Inside the box was a puzzle that she had to put together. The puzzle spelled out the official invitation with the phrase, “Tag, you’re it. The Brooks PR Invitational is on and we want you in Seattle.”
“I had no idea what it was at first, but when I saw it was an invitation to Brooks PR it was really exciting,” DeBalsi said. “The puzzle part was slightly anticlimactic because it took me so long to put the puzzle together.”
DeBalsi said she will be running in the 2 mile at Brooks, which is scheduled for June 21 at 2:15 p.m. (Pacific time).