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Staples Runner Finishes 5th At National Cross County Race

Staples Hannah Debalsi, left, finished fifth Saturday at the Foot Locker national cross championships in San Diego. She is shown with Darien's Alex Ostberg, who finished ninth in the boys race.
Staples Hannah Debalsi, left, finished fifth Saturday at the Foot Locker national cross championships in San Diego. She is shown with Darien's Alex Ostberg, who finished ninth in the boys race. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Staples High School junior Hannah Debalsi finished fifth Saturday at the Foot Locker national cross country championships in San Diego.

Debalsi covered the 5-kilometer course in 17:47 and was the top runner from the Northeast region. It was the second straight time she has finished in the Top Five in the race. Debalsi finished second last year.

Anna Rohrer of Indiana won the race in 17:13. Gabriella Richichi of New Fairfield finished 16th in 18:14 in the field of 40 runners.

“I gave it my all,’’ said Debalsi, who won Connecticut and New England championships this fall. “I had higher goals, but I had an injury that cost me training time and I just couldn’t make it up. Considering everything that happened, I’m pretty happy.”

Debalsi finished second in the Northeast Regional championships in November but said she entered Saturday’s race with positive thoughts.

“I didn’t want to count myself out,’’ she said. “I knew the injury had cost me a little training, but I still thought I could have a strong race and run with the best girls in the country.”

She has one more year to make a run at the title, and Debalsi feels this year’s race will be a good learning experience.

“I had high goals,’’ she said. “It didn’t go like I planned, but I learned a lot. I’m looking forward to having another shot at it next year.”

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