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Wreckers girls place second at State Open

After claiming the school's first Class LL title Feb. 8, the Staples girls indoor track team set its sights on the State Open Monday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.

The Wreckers held the lead going into the final event, the 4x400 relay, but Wilbur Cross won the event and the title in one fell swoop. Staples finished second with 42.33 points, while the Governors took first with 46.

"We really wanted to win, we set our eyes on winning it, but we are really happy with (the finish)," Staples coach Jesse McCray said. "We wanted to get first, but we can't deny the effort of our girls."

The 1600 meter race featured three of the top runners in the region in Wilbur Cross' Danae Rivers, Hannah DeBalsi of Staples and Westhill's Claire Howlett. The trio put on a phenomenal show, with Rivers passing DeBalsi late in the race. Rivers then held off a late charge from DeBalsi to claim the victory. Rivers' time of 4:52.29 was a new state record while DeBalsi (4:52.57) and Howlett (4:53.07) each posted personal bests.

"At first I thought it was Claire (behind me), and then I saw it was Danae, and she went in front me," DeBalsi said. "I tried to stay with her as long as I could. I closed faster than I usually close and I usually don't have a good kick; I feel like I could have pushed harder in the middle laps."

After Howlett dropped out of the 3200, DeBalsi was left without any real competition and took it relatively easy in winning the event. Of course, despite "coasting," her time (10:41.39) was still a State Open record.

"I wasn't going for a time, I was just trying to coast it, not go all out," DeBalsi said. "There was no point; I would have liked to because it's fun, but I can recover faster and get better in workouts and save it for New England's, which is more important."

Wreckers junior Erica Hefnway also contributed to the scoring, finishing fourth in the 1000 (3:00.00) and being one of the anchors in the sprint medley relay that finished second.

I was really happy, I wanted to break three (minutes) but I really can't be upset with that," Hefnawy said. "I just wanted to do anything to help the team."

Staples' Tyler Scanlin (1:36.52) finished first in the 600 meter dash, using a late-race kick to edge Jenna Olander of Tolland (1:36.60). Katie Foley (1:36.89) of Trumbull finished third.

"(It feels) incredible," Scanlin said. "I think it was unexpected honestly. It felt so good at the end knowing that I had it. After the second lap knowing there was only one lap left, I just had to push through."

Staples finished second in the sprint medley relay to Wilbur Cross. Bridget Van Dorsten finished in a 3-way tie for fourth place in the high jump for the Wreckers.

The Wreckers were the highest-placed FCIAC team, defeating FCIAC champion Darien, which scored 32.75 points. That accomplishment was a source of pride, according to McCray.

"In a way we are happy that we are the top finisher from the best league in the state of Connecticut," McCray said. "We are happy with where we finished, and it's a milestone that we were able to beat Darien at this meet." Read Full Article 

The Wreckers now have less than two weeks to prepare for the New England Championships, scheduled for March 1 in Boston.

"We are so happy, we are grateful that we have this experience, it's a good thing to get good times, work really hard and prove everything that we've been doing," Hefnawy said.

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Ryan Lacey

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