DeBalsi, van der Els rule FCIAC cross country

Staples senior Hannah DeBalsi comes down the home stretch en route to her third consecutive FCIAC cross country championship Wednesday in Waveny Park. — Dave Stewart photo

Staples senior Hannah DeBalsi comes down the home stretch en route to her third consecutive FCIAC cross country championship Wednesday in Waveny Park. — Dave Stewart photo

NEW CANAAN – Staples senior Hannah DeBalsi won her third consecutive individual championship, Brien McMahon senior Eric van der Els was the boys’ champion while the Danbury boys defended their team title and Ridgefield won the girls team title at the 2015 FCIAC Cross Country Championships on Wednesday at Waveny Park.

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Danbury’s Hatters nipped Staples by a very slight margin for the second straight year in the boys’ race to add to their record of 21 conference crowns since they won their first one in 1991.

The lowest team score wins in cross country as the place positions of the top five scoring runners are added up to accumulate the team score.

Danbury placed its top five runners in the top 20 to score 71 points and finish three points better than Staples, which placed its top five in the top 25 for its 74 points. Last year Danbury nipped Staples’ Wreckers by one point, 58 to 59.

McMahon’s van der Els has already secured his status as the best high school distance runner ever from the City of Norwalk after his great junior season in cross country and track last year. He added this to his lengthy list of achievements as he became the first FCIAC cross country champion ever from McMahon by covering the 5,000-meter (3.1 miles) course in 15 minutes, 24 seconds to beat Ridgefield senior Gabriel Altopp by 15 seconds.

Fairfield Warde junior William Brisman placed third with a time of 15:47. Wilton senior Justin Hoelzl (15:52) took fourth and Staples junior Zakeer Ahmad was just two seconds behind in fifth place.

Danbury’s Hatters utilized their traditional strong pack running to capture their crown as junior Trevor Reed placed sixth in 16:00 to lead the five scoring Hatters who finished within 39 seconds of each other.

Ridgefield senior Ian Mickool (16:01) finished seventh, Stamford senior Gilmar Barrios (16:08) took eighth and St. Joseph senior James Mas (16:09) was ninth.

Senior Jack Adamski (16:10) completed the top 10 as the second Danbury runner.

The runners who finished in places 11-20 were Staples senior Benjamin Foster (16:14), Wilton junior Aaron Breene (16:18), Warde senior Charles Kieffer (16:19), Staples junior Brandon Harrington (16:21), Trumbull junior Charlie Taubl (16:26), Greenwich senior Andrew Kates (16:28), Danbury junior Terrell Cunningham (16:33), Danbury senior Jake Roberts (16:36), Staples sophomore Sunil Green (16:37) and Danbury sophomore Dan Nichols (16:39).

Warde was third in the boys’ team scoring with 99 points and was followed by Ridgefield (131) and Trumbull (164).

Danbury won six consecutive FCIAC championships from 1991-96, Ridgefield won the next two, and Danbury has won 15 of the last 17 conference championships since 1999. Staples has 10 FCIAC boys titles for the second most.

Ridgefield won this year’s girls team title to extend its record to 12 FCIAC championships. Wilton is second with eight.

These Ridgefield Tigers were so tightly-packed together and dominant that they had their five scoring runners finish within 16 seconds of each other in places 4-through-9 and then had their sixth runner place 10th for good measure.

DeBalsi won the race in dominant fashion for the third straight year as she had a time of 14:05 over the 4,000-meter course to win by 40 seconds over Mary Lynch, a senior from Wilton. DeBalsi set the course record of 13:29 two years ago as a sophomore and last year DeBalsi had a 13:37 when she won by a minute and two seconds over runner-up Anne Johnston of Darien while leading the Wreckers to the team title.

DeBalsi’s junior teammate, Susannah Martin, placed third this year with a 14:52.

Ridgefield was led by freshman Kasey McGerald and junior Ava Kelley, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with the identical times of 15:05.

Fairfield Warde junior Gabi Galletta (15:16) finished sixth.

Then came that title-clinching pack of four Ridgefield Tigers – senior Olivia Gorski (15:16), juniors Rachel Maue (15:17) and Kelsey Bordash (15:21) and sophomore Julia Hergenrother (15:22).

Ridgefield won with 33 points while Staples was runner-up with 70.

Wilton sophomore Morgan McCormick (15:29) placed 11th and the rest of the top 20 included Trumbull junior Katelynn Romanchick (15:31), Staples senior Angelee Parmar (15:33), Warde junior Sarah Radziewicz (15:40), Fairfield Ludlowe sophomore Keegan Simonsen (15:47), Greenwich senior Sabrina Thurber (15:51), Greenwich sophomore Genevieve DeWinter (15:51), Ridgefield senior Emma Hergenrother (15:56), Greenwich junior Erika Bloes (15:59) and Greenwich sophomore Hetty McMillan (16:00).

Wilton placed third in team scoring with 90 points, Greenwich was fourth with 99 and Warde completed the top five with 155.

Eric van der Els became Brien McMahon's first FCIAC cross country championship when he won the boys' 5K race Wednesday in New Canaan's Waveny Park. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

Eric van der Els became Brien McMahon’s first FCIAC cross country championship when he won the boys’ 5K race Wednesday in New Canaan’s Waveny Park. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

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