NEW YORK--Fairfield Prep's Christian Alvarado and Staples' Hannah DeBalsi entered Sunday's New Balance indoor national championships at The Armory in New York City with targets on their backs.
Both Alvarado and DeBalsi entered the boys and girls 2-mile races with the No.1 fastest times nationally, and were considered amongst the favorites to take home first-place finishes.
It wasn't meant to be for either as DeBalsi finished fourth (10:17.36) after a late fall and Alvarado came home 16th (9:16.18) in the last race of the indoor track season.
DeBalsi, who led for the majority of the race, was passed by race-winner Tessa Barrett (10:08.05) as the last lap began. With half a lap remaining, DeBalsi and second-place finisher Audrey Belf were racing side-by-side when the two collided and DeBalsi fell to the floor.
"At first I was really mad that I fell," DeBalsi said. "But I took a step back and realized I was still on the podium. I still have to appreciate what I did."
The top six finishers of each event earned All-American status.
Alvarado began his race in the back of the pack before working his way up to seventh place at the mile mark.
"My strategy was to stay in the middle of the pack and slowly move up," Alvarado said. "I thought I did a good job of that before the mile. After the mile my legs started to feel tired, I was stuck in no man's land; I couldn't push."
Alvarado settled into seventh as the field pulled away, and finished with the 16th fastest time among the three heats.
"I thought I had a good race strategy, and if I could stay to that I would have had a good chance to win," Alvarado said. "These past two weeks have been really low mileage, so that may have had an effect on how I ran today. Overall, I am happy with how the way the season went and I will give it a go in outdoors."
DeBalsi ran a 10:12.95 in winning New Englands two weeks ago and was on pace to eclipse that mark Sunday before tumbling to the floor.
"After New Englands this is icing on the cake," DeBalsi said. "I wish it happened a different way, but I can't be upset about coming fourth at nationals."
Other regional athletes enjoyed success in New York.
On Friday, Westhill senior Claire Howlett finished her indoor career with a third place finish (16:58.35) in the 5,000 meters. Barrett also won that event (16:11.85) with a high school record time.
DeBalsi reached the podium twice this weekend, as the Wreckers distance medley relay team took home third on Friday (11:45.79). The tandem of Erica Hefnawy, Olivia Wiener, Tyler Scanlin and DeBalsi finished 2.6 seconds off the top spot.
"Going in we knew we were in contention to win," Hefnawy said. "So we were all pretty nervous and it was about how well we all carried through with that. Everyone did great; everyone was inching towards the front."
Immaculate's Jessica Wojnicki finished 17th (10:48) in the 2-mile.
Brien McMahon's Shnyden Pierre took 18th in the 200.
A pair of Darien athletes did well in the field. Nick Lombardo (6-06.25) finished in a tie for fifth place in the high jump while Catherine Lacy took home 20th (17-11.75) in the long jump. The Blue Wave 4x200 team that won New Englands finished 25th at nationals.
Darien's Alex Ostberg did not participate in any event this weekend, due to bronchitis.