Poly's Will Henderson, Annapolis' Maria Coffin named The Sun's Athletes of the Year

Poly senior Will Henderson did a lot of everything exceptionally well in his final indoor and outdoor track and field seasons this year.

When Annapolis senior Maria Coffin first began running as a freshman, she never imagined the success she would enjoy in the coming years competing in cross country and track.

Both stood out in the area among a talented field of student-athletes in the 2016-17 school year.

On Wednesday, Henderson and Coffin were recognized for their fine accomplishments by being named The Baltimore Sun's Male and Female High School Athletes of the Year at the 51st annual awards luncheon at the newspaper's downtown headquarters.

Aziz Abdur-Ra'oof, a football star at Northeast who won the award in 1983 before enjoying a standout career at Maryland and making it to the NFL, was the luncheon's keynote speaker.

Henderson and Coffin were selected from a list of 10 boys and girls finalists, all of whom were recognized at the ceremony.

"This award means I put a lot of hard work in. … It's a humbling experience," said Henderson, who won seven state titles in six different events over the course of his high school career. "My senior year has been a humbling experience. I think I touched many people on and off the track, so just for me to do anything with sports is a blessing."

Henderson, who has committed to Penn State, saved some of his best for last in a remarkable senior year that was capped by titles in the long jump, 100-meter dash and 110 hurdles at this past weekend's state championships at Morgan State.   

In being named The Sun's Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year in the winter season, he won state titles in the 55 hurdles and high jump, and had a memorable performance competing at the Millrose Games in New York on Feb. 10.

Competing in the 55 hurdles, Henderson's time of 6.31 seconds set a record for that event and ended up tied for the best mark in the nation in the season.

Also recognized Wednesday were male finalists Evan Fochtman (Archbishop Spalding), Dalton Hengst (McDonogh), PJ Mustipher (McDonogh), Mike Nash (Hereford), Nick Richardson (Archbishop Curley), Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph), Joey Thomas (South Carroll), Elijah White (Centennial) and Jamar Williams (South Carroll).

In accepting the top female award, Coffin, who was a finalist as a junior, talked about how far she has come in her four years running — adding three state titles in her senior year to finish her career with seven.

"It's definitely awesome," she said. "I was a [finalist] last year and the girl who received the award played multiple sports, so I think as a cross country and track athlete you really have to work hard for it because others play different sports and they can show their abilities in different ways. So, this award means a lot and I'm really thankful."

Set to run at Providence, Coffin graduates as one of the area's finest distance runners, solidified by her record-breaking senior year.

In the fall, she repeated as The Sun's Cross Country Runner of the Year with a second straight Class 4A title. Her time of 17 minutes, 49.38 seconds made her the first runner to finish under 18 minutes in the state championship on the challenging Hereford course.

In earning All-Metro first-team honors in the indoor track season, she broke the Class 4A record in the 1,600 with a time of 4:58.99. Invited to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Coffin finished 13th in the 3,000. From there, she finished 10th at the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in San Diego to earn All-American status.

She closed out her illustrious high school career last weekend at the outdoor state meet with a first-place finish in the 1,600 and second-place finishes in the 800 and 3,200 races in Class 4A.

The other female finalists were Andie Aldave (McDonogh), Erin Collins (Hereford), Mia Davis (St. Frances), Jasmine Dickey (Catonsville), Anna Farley (Bel Air), Maddie Jenner (McDonogh), Chyna Latimer (Patterson Mill), Faith Leslie (Wilde Lake) and Nyjari McNeil (Franklin).  

Abdur-Ra'oof had the student-athletes' full attention Wednesday with a strong message about leadership being a full-time responsibility, challenging them to go outside their comfort zones and understanding what sports means to them.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

twitter.com/GlennGrahamSun

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