Girls Track

Q & A With Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi: “I Didn’t Expect Any Of This”

WESTPORT — Hannah DeBalsi had modest hopes when she arrived as a freshman for her first practice with the Staples High School cross country team: earn a varsity spot that would also serve as a springboard to expanding her social circles and meeting new people.

DeBalsi immediately had an inner circle of friends. FCIAC, state and New England championships took just weeks more. One year later she was a national champion, winning the outdoor two-mile as a sophomore.


Sulger, Schneider Ready For College Challenges After Track Perfection At Darien

DARIEN — It was the indoor track equivalent of the dream team: during the winters of 2013-14, four girls worked in harmony to achieve perfection. Anna Sulger was in the leadoff spot for the Darien 4×200 relay, followed by, in order, Catherine Lacy, Maddie Schneider and Dillon Schoen.

They were undefeated, winning FCIAC, Class, State Open and New England championships.

“Honestly, I don’t know how we did it,” said Sulger as she recalled the seasons with great clarity. “It was all amazing. My sophomore year we kind of knew, and junior year everyone was out to get us.”


Commentary: For Another Spring, Darien Has Earned The Title ‘Sports Town, USA’

For well over two decades now, once winter has morphed into spring, Darien has been known as Lacrosse Town, U.S.A., or some similar derivation. Children are given toy sticks not long after losing baby teeth, the youth programs are a model for success and both the boys and girls high school teams from this small tony town are no longer just state, but now regional and national powers as well.

But as Chris Manfredonia, the high school’s athletic director, recently noted, Lacrosse Town is too limited in scope.

“We have a variety of strong programs from the youth to high school levels,” Manfredonia said. “It’s Sports Town, U.S.A.


Distance Runner Making A Difference: Volunteer Work Is Another Special Quality Of Graduated Trumbull Track Star Katie Foley

TRUMBULL — With her friends in Trumbull enjoying their annual July 4th activities, Katie Foley was 728 miles away, in a much more spartan environment.

While Foley’s friends were laying out in the sun, Foley was working under it, putting in seven-hour days. Her sweat-stained clothes felt much different than her track uniform upon crossing the finish line.

So did the level of satisfaction.

“I’m used to not being around for the holiday now,” Foley said. “I have no problem with it.”


Greenwich’s Nicole Graham Finishing 3-Sport Career On Field After Recovery From Leukemia

GREENWICH — The positive outlook and radiant smile have remained constants, packaged now with a maturity uncommon in high school seniors.

Then again, not many teenagers — or anyone, for that matter — have had to endure the battle waged by Nicole Graham against an insidious disease that left her parents in the unfathomable position of having to confront their daughter’s mortality.

It is unfair to compare Graham’s battle with leukemia to any of her athletic endeavors at Greenwich High School, save for an important common trait: the indomitable spirit she brought to the fight.


No Picture

Commentary: 2013 A Year Rich In Memorable Stories And Accomplishments

My annual year-end columns are assured of one thing: if I re-read them days later, I will inevitably realize leaving someone or something off the list.

The athletes, coaches and games that stood out the most resonate in my mind, so this compilation is done without the aid or poring over old stories and strictly off the top of my head.

Here, then, is what I will remember most about 2013:


Stanford The Next Stop For Westhill’s Howlett

STAMFORD — Claire Howlett, the Westhill senior who has made a meteoric rise in three years from a track novice into one of the nation’s top high school distance runners, announced last week that she will be attending Stanford next year on a scholarship.

Howlett, who finished second at last week’s FCIAC cross country championships, was leaning toward Stanford during her search, and said her decision was sealed after a trip to the school earlier this month.