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Westport Runner Races Saturday In National Cross Country Championships

Staples junior Hannah Debalsi finished second at lat month's Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships.
Staples junior Hannah Debalsi finished second at lat month's Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships. Photo Credit: Photorun.net

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport’s Hannah Debalsi finished second at last year’s Foot Locker cross country national championships. This year, the junior from Staples High School hopes to climb up one more step on the podium.

Debalsi will be among the field of 40 runners in Saturday’s Foot Locker national championship race at Balboa Park in San Diego. DeBalsi was the fastest underclassmen last year, when she ran 17:26 and finished second, 10 seconds behind Tessa Barrett of Pennsylvania.

Saturday's race begins at 12:15 p.m. EST. A webcast of the race will be available on the Foot Locker website .

Debalsi comes into this year’s race as an underdog, however. She finished second in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in November to Brianna Schwartz of Pittsburgh. Schwartz won the 5k race in 17:35.2, and was 15 seconds clear of Debalsi. In a national ranking by MileSplit.com, Debalsi is ranked 11th in the nation.

The loss to Schwartz was the first of the season for Debalsi, who won the State Open and New England titles. Debalsi started running competitively in October in an effort to peak for the most significant races of the season.

Darien’s Alex Ostberg is one of the meet’s top contenders in the boys race. Ostberg won the title at the Northeast Regional and comes into the meet ranked third by MileSplit.

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