For most high school athletes, sports are a great way to meet friends, stay active and learn new skills. For Hannah DeBalsi ’16, this is how her track career began. However, with time and dedication, running blossomed from a hobby to a lifestyle. Due to her commitment and endless hours of practice, DeBalsi is consistently winning various competitions throughout the country.
Perhaps the most prestigious award yet is being named second in the nation. Debalsi finished with a time of 17:26 in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships, which took place in San Diego, California. In addition to winning second place overall, DeBalsi was also the fastest sophomore student in the entire country.
However, she was very modest about winning these amazing titles.“I knew that if I had a great race, I could place fairly well, but I didn’t expect to end up finishing second,” DeBalsi said.
DeBalsi’s accomplishments have not come easily, especially since she has only been training for a year and a half. Along with possessing natural talent, she worked relentlessly on developing her skills to improve.
Her coach, Amanda Parrish, noticed there was something special in Hannah from the very start. “She has an extremely unusual combination of talent, work ethic, focus, and willingness to put herself in pain on the way to accomplishing her goals,” she said.
Parrish, who accompanied DeBalsi to San Diego for the race, has been by her side from the beginning. Along with encouragements and assisting with the physical aspects of the training, Parrish helps DeBalsi stay balanced. “Hannah is a very hard worker, so sometimes our jobs as coaches is to get her to do less, not more,” Parrish said.
It’s clear to all that DeBalsi is on a clear path for success, so what are the plans for the future? As of now, she hopes to “continue competing at a regional and national level” and “continue enjoying running.” After high school, she hopes to run in college.
Debalsi knows though, that “a lot can change in a couple of years” and is focusing on one season at a time.
Peter Elkind ’13, boys’ track and field captain, believes that DeBalsi can run for any college of her choosing based on her current finishing times. In fact, he notes that she has received introductions from colleges already. “She gets letters from colleges and she just throws them out,” Elkind said.
Despite taking her training seriously, DeBalsi still finds time to enjoy herself and make each moment count. “I was cooling down with Hannah after she’d just broken the course record and she told me she had been worried she’d be sore for the race because she’d been laughing so hard the day before,” Parrish recalls.
With two and a half years left in high school, DeBalsi is sure to break more records and continue impressing all. For this running enthusiast, the sky’s the limit.
Her coach, as well the rest of the school, have high hopes for Debalsi. “I hope Hannah continues to bring her fierce determination to racing and to whatever else she does,” Parrish said.