NEW HAVEN --The 1600 and 3200 meter races at the FCIAC indoor track championships Wednesday were run in nearly the exact same fashion.
Staples sophomore standout Hannah DeBalsi held a slim lead over Westhill senior Claire Howlett for the majority of both races, only for Howlett to make a final lap charge to claim both events.
Howlett clocked in with a time of 10:28.56 in the 3200, over two seconds ahead of DeBalsi (10:30.79). Howlett (4:54.15) finished first in the 1600 ahead of DeBalsi (4:55.63) as the two put on a show at the Floyd Little Athletic Center at Hillhouse High School.
"I was pretty tired after my mile, so I just thought I'd duck in there and stay up there as long as I could," Howlett said of the 3200 victory. "I'm not overconfident, because I know I can't beat her every time. It means a lot to me. Usually I'm just going for a good time but today I wanted the win because FCIAC title is a big deal."
Darien (95 points) won the team competition for the second straight season. Staples finished second (60) and Ridgefield finished third (47).
"It's awesome," Darien Captain Dillon Schoen said. "It shows so much about our team that we are such a strong program. Being the defending FCIAC champions and coming back and winning it again. We have such a deep team and everyone performed so well.
But the highlight of the meet was the battle between DeBalsi and Howlett, a pair of once in a generation runners that are placed in the same division in the same conference.
"If anything it's fuel for the next time they race," Staples coach Amanda Parrish said. "It's both good and frustrating to have her closest competitor in the division and in the conference. It means that neither of them get a (off) week. They are always facing each other."
After setting the state record in the divisional meet Saturday, DeBalsi admitted she wasn't at her best and couldn't quite pull away from Howlett as the senior stayed close behind.
"I knew that was going to be her plan, so I just tried to go as hard as I could and see if I could drop her but today wasn't my day. I felt really sluggish."
Darien kicked off the meet with a win in the 4x200 relay (1:47.24) behind the efforts of Anna Sulger, Maddie Schneider, Brittany Henry and Schoen.
"The 4X200 win was really good for us," Schoen said. "We weren't seeded first and we wanted to get that win to kind of start off the meet right because it was the first event."
Ridgefield captured the 4X800 relay (9:53.41) over Fairfield Warde (9:57.33), with Laura Hergenrother running the closing leg for the Tigers. Hergenrother also finished second to Allen in the 1000.
Fairfield Warde's Cate Allen took home first in the 1000 (2:59.40), edging Hergenrother (2:59.88) by 0.48 seconds. Erica Hefnway (3:05.66) of Staples was third.
"It's definitely a speed race, I think I had good competition in the race and the top three girls had a chance. We kind of worked off each other and I think it was a good race for everyone."
Allen (11:27.12) finished third in the 3200 behind Howlett and DeBalsi. Allen stayed up with the front two for roughly half the race before setting into third.
"My goal was to stick with them longer than that," Allen said. "I am a little bit disappointed with how I ended that race but I hope next time I can come back stronger."
Sarah Cicchetti (34-08.75) of Greenwich won the shot put event while Darien's Catherine Lacy won the long jump.
Sulger (1:37.51) won the 600 meter ahead of Staples' Tyler Scanlin (139.18). Scanlin was part of the 1600 sprint medley relay team that finished in first (4:20.73).
"Everyone ran really well, everyone ran faster than their seed times," Parrish said. "The SMR ran amazing out of the slow heat and ended up winning the event. I thought Hannah ran well. The distance runners did a really good job."
Norwalk's Tamia Taylor finished second in both the 55 meter hurdles (8.53) and 55 meter dash (7.51).
FCIAC girls indoor track championships
Darien 95, Staples 60, Ridgefield 47, Fairfield Warde 40, Wilton 36, Greenwich 30.50, Norwalk 28, Danbury 26, Westhill 23, McMahon 19, New Canaan 19, Fairfield Ludlowe 15.50, St. Joseph 14, Trumbull 10, Stamford 2.
Top six in each event
4x200 relay: 1. Darien (Anna Sulger, Maddie Schneider, Brittany Henry, Dillon Schoen) 1:47.24; 2. Danbury (Jay'yona Torres, Bridget Chiaravelle, Najmah James, Niema Riley) 1:48.50; 3. Wilton (Shannon Quinlan, Jillian Lauricella, Zoe Lamason, Laine Parson) 1:51.38; 4. Fairfield Ludlowe (Rachel Hurst, Allie Gorab, Ali Johnson, Emma Koether) 1:52.62; 5. Greenwich (Emma Slagle, Anna Giannuzzi, Caroline Frey, Erika Hvolbeck) 1:52.68; 6. Staples (Sarah Neckritz, Katherine Coogan, Grace Wynne, Olivia Wiener) 1:52.78; 4x800 relay: 1. Ridgefield (Hannah Mercorella, Sarah Mickool, Hannah Fleming, Laura Hergenrother) 9:53.42; 2. Fairfield Warde (Quinn Igram, Paige Hanley, Roey Mappa, Hannah Dougherty) 9:57.33; 3. New Canaan (Emily Wood, Elizabeth Gordon, Alexandra Naughton, Isabel Hetherington) 10:05.79; 4. Darien (Anne Johnston, Kristen Mayhew, Caroline O'Brien, Grace Harmon) 10:05.91; 5. Wilton (Olivia Bernardini, Keiley Gaston, Brooke Connolly, Madison Peraino) 10:09.17; 6. Greenwich (Tori McMachan, Daryl Kennedy, Mia Bonanno, Amy Wyle); 55 hurdles: 1. Sarah Boyd (McMahon) 8.53; 2. Tamia Taylor (Norwalk) 9.08; 3. Jada Harris (St. Joseph) 9.09; 4. Alex Wykoff (Fairfield Ludlowe) 9.19; 5. Najmah James (Danbury) 9.27; 6. Maddie Schneider (Darien) 9.39; 55 dash: 1. Niema Riley (Danbury) 7.43; 2. Tamia Taylor (Norwalk) 7.51; 3. Catherine Lacy (Darien) 7.55; 4. Shannon Quinlan (Wilton) 7.69; 5. Maureen Schott (New Canaan) 7.71; 6. Anna Black (Greenwich) 7.73; 1000: 1. Cate Allen (Fairfield Warde) 2:59.40; 2. Laura Hergenrother (Ridgefield) 2:59.88; 3. Erica Hefnawy (Staples) 3:05.66; 4. Annika Sheehan (Wilton) 3:07.52; 5. Ericka Randazzo (Westhill) 3;11.80; 6. Haley Greene (Ridgefield) 3:16.20; 600: 1. Anna Sulger (Darien) 1:37.51; 2. Tyler Scanlin (Staples) 1:39.18; 3. Claire Turner (Norwalk) 1:39.25; 4. Katie Foley (Trumbull) 1:39.41; 5. Laine Parsons (Wilton) 1:40.33; 6. Dillon Schoen (Darien) 1:42.71; 1600: 1. Claire Howlett (Westhill) 4:54.15; 2. Hannah Debalsi (Staples) 4:55.63; 3. Sarah Healy (Wilton) 5;21.34; 4. Hannah Fleming (Ridgefield) 5;31.59; 5. Roey Mappa (Fairfield Warde) 5:31.88; 6. Isabel Hetherington (New Canaan) 5;38.74; 300: 1. Anna Sulger (Darien) 41.30; 2. Anna Black (Greenwich) 42.82; 3. Katie Foley (Trumbull) 42.86; 4. Emma Koether (Fairfield Ludlowe) 43.22; 5. Deanna Singewald (Norwalk) 43.39; 6. Treloara Harrisson (Greenwich) 43.71; long jump: 1. Catherine Lacy (Darien) 17-09.50; 2. Sarah Boyd (McMahon) 17-02; 3. Maureen Schott (New Canaan) 16-01.00; 4. Sofie Sogaard (Ridgefield) 15-11.50; 5. Thessiana Mesilus (Stamford) 15-08.50; Olivia Sullivan (McMahon) 15-04.00; shot put: 1. Sarah Cicchetti (Greenwich) 34-08.75; 2. Taylor McDonald (Darien) 31-05.75; 3. Andrea Galeano (St. Joseph) 31-02.25; 4. Laine Blummer (Darien) 30-07.00; 5. Khaila Fitzgerald (St. Joseph) 30-05.50; 6. Alaina Washiington (Staples) 30-04.50; pole vault: 1. Maddie Schneider (Darien) 11-06.0; 2. Jessica Thornbury (Darien) 10-06.00; 3. Rachel Moroknek (Ridgefield) J10-06.00; 4. Beth Kelly (New Canaan) 9-00.00; 5. Kristen Mayhew (Darien) 8-00.00; 6. Janine Migden (Westhill) J8-00.00; high jump: 1. Bridget Van dorsten (Staples) 5-00.00; 2. Blossom Jean-Jocques (Fairfield Warde) J5-00.00; 3. (tie) Catherine Lacy (Darien) 4-10.00 and Sofie Sogaard (Ridgefield) 4-10.00; 5. (tie) Kylie Ginsberg (Greenwich) J4-10.00 and Emily O'Keefe (Fairfield Ludlowe) J4-10.00; 4x400 relay: 1. Wilton (Annika Sheehan, Sarah Healy, Madison Peraino, Laine Parsons) 4:08.72; 2. Staples (Brynly Marsh, Olivia Wiener, Erica Hefnawy, Tyler Scanlin) 4:10.06; 3. Greenwich (Vitoria Galbier, Treloara Harrisson, Jennifer Goggin, Anna Black) 4:12.21; 4. Fairfield Warde (Paige Hanley, Sarah Reilly, Cate Allen, Hannah Dougherty) 4:16.50; 5. Fairfield Ludlowe (Rachel Hurst, Kate O'Shea, Alex Wykoff, Emma Koether) 4:20.68; 6. Darien (Elizabeth Fucigna, Kristen Mayhew, Lindsey Holek, Dillon Schoen) 4:21.39; 3200: 1. Claire Howlett (Westhill) 10:28.56; 2. Hannah Debalsi (Staples) 10:30.79; 3. Cate Allen (Fairfield Warde) 11:27.12; 4. Anne Johnston (Darien) 11:34.86; 5. Olivia Bernardini (Wilton) 11:48.28; 6. Haley Greene (Ridgefield) 11"478.87.