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Athlete Worth Watching: Maria Coffin, Annapolis High School

Sep 28, 2016 02:46PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tom Worgo

In addition to possessing an intense focus that has enabled her to maintain a perfect grade point average while piling up championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, there’s another—and much softer—side to Maria Coffin.

The Annapolis High School junior also loves to help others; she volunteers to help elementary and middle school students in her spare time. All the while, the aspiring architect also finds time to sing in a choir every Sunday at St. John Neumann Church.

Annapolis cross country coach Paula Carrigan says Coffin, who is treasurer of Student Government Association, a member of National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, has an exemplary character.

“I have been coaching high school students for eight years, and I have never seen anybody like her,” Carrigan explained. “She is a special athlete and a dream to coach. She is totally focused. Her passion is there. And she loves everything about running.” 

Coffin’s success goes well beyond events in the county, regional, and state events in which she represents Annapolis.

The five-foot-five Coffin took 27th place in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in San Diego, California, last December and placed 12th at the New Balance National Outdoor track meet in Greensboro, North Carolina, last summer in the 5,000 meters.

“I have been following the girls who have been competing nationally,” Coffin said of the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships. “It was a big thrill and a lot of fun to be running with them.”  

But the finish that meant the most to the 17-year-old Coffin was grabbing eighth in the 3,000 at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Her time of 9:34 ranked as the second fastest ever from a Maryland high school girl.

“Kristen Nicolini (Lehmkuhle) was an All-American in 1994 and competed at the Olympic Trials,” long-time Annapolis athletic director Dave Gehrdes said of the former Panthers’ star. “Maria is that type of athlete. People who don’t follow track or know about track know about her. She’s gone from regional and state champion to national prominence. She keeps getting better and better.”

Coffin’s short list of prospective college choices include Georgetown, North Carolina State and Stanford Universities and the University of San Francisco for a student boasting a weighted 4.46 grade-point average.

“I really want to go to a school that has a top-notch cross country and track program,” Coffin said. “I want to compete against girls who can really push me.”

She plans to commit to a college this fall and sign a National Letter of Intent in mid-November, right around the same time she will focus on repeating as the state class 4A cross country individual champion.

In last year’s cross country championship meet, Coffin had the second fastest time (18:25) of any girl in any classification.

Coffin also captured county and regional cross country championships for the second straight season last fall, earning the 2015-16 Gatorade Maryland Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award in the process.

“As far as workouts are concerned, she goes beyond what I expect,” Carrigan said of Coffin, who was a finalist for the National Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the year award. “She is not afraid to hurt and find that new level. A lot of runners, when they hurt, they step back. When she starts to hurt, she starts to push more.”

Coffin garnered her second state individual high school championship in March by winning the 1,600 indoor. That finish came on top of county and regional indoor championships as both a sophomore and junior in the 1,600 and 3,200 As a sophomore, she also won county and regional championships outdoors in the same events.

In all, Coffin has garnered 14 post-season championships.

“Her drive to be good is unbelievable,” Annapolis Indoor Track Coach Brian Brown said. “Everybody has left practice and she is still out there.”

Coffin’s leadership is another one of her outstanding qualities. She serves as co-captain of all three Annapolis teams and volunteers as an assistant for the Annapolis Junior Striders.

“She helps the freshmen out,” Brown said. “She cares about everybody.”