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Hereford junior Sarah Coffey is the 2015 North County News female Athlete of the Year. Coffey won a combined five county and regional championships in indoor and outdoor track this year.
Hereford junior Sarah Coffey is the 2015 North County News female Athlete of the Year. Coffey won a combined five county and regional championships in indoor and outdoor track this year. (File photo/BSMG)

Hereford High School junior Sarah Coffey career ambition jumps off the page.

Many successful student athletes want to be doctors, lawyers or even accountants.

Coffey has set her sights on something different: She aspires to be a scientist. She loves studying biology.

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"There are a lot of opportunities in biology with research and genetics," said the soft spoken Coffey, who carries a 4.0 grade point average and plays the violin in the school's orchestra. "It's a rapidly expanding field. I think it's really interesting how our body works on the microscopic level."

If Coffey's success at cross country, indoor and outdoor track is any indication, she will be a successful scientist.

The 2015 North County News female Athlete of the Year won a combined five county and regional championships in indoor and outdoor track this year.

The 5-foot-9 Coffey also was part of two state championships relay teams and last year she finished second during the cross country season in the 32nd annual Barnhart Invitational.

But the blazing time of 5:07 Coffey ran in the 1,600 meters in the Class 2A state championships in late May impressed Hereford indoor and outdoor track coach Brad Duvall more than any championship.

“She was half a second off the school record,” the coach said. “She will get it next year. It speaks to her dedication and effort. We have had some many talented kids come through here and so many Division I runners that are running in Big 10 and ACC championships and things like that. She could have the fastest time of all of them.”

Duvall said Coffey has been recruited by about 15 schools. UMBC, Lafayette and Loyola University Maryland have shown the most interest.Coffey's best season this school year came in the spring.

She won county championships in both the 1,600 (5:17) and 3,200 (11:42) and a regional championship in the 1,600 (5:25.).

Then she had her best performance of the season in the state championships, running 10 seconds faster than the county championships.

"Her outdoor season was incredible," Duvall said. "This is the first time I trained her straight through the indoor and outdoor seasons and didn't give her any time off. We really pushed Sarah and she responded very well."

Duvall and Coffey can't talk about the outdoor season without mentioning the 3,200 relay championship.

Coffey ran the third leg on both that team and the state-title winning indoor 3,200 squad.

"She actually gave us separation in both races," Duvall said.

Coffey also shined individually in the winter.

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She won championships in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and place fifth in the 800 to help the Bulls to their ninth consecutive indoor track title.

"It was wonderful to be part of a team that won nine straight titles," Coffey said. "And winning county was pretty special. I am glad all the hard work paid off."

Duvall said Coffey farther any runner he has coached in the last eight years.

"As a freshman, I wasn't sure what she would amount to," Duvall said. "She was kind of slow. But she has worked so hard. She has far surpassed anyone in terms of progress. Her improvement has been unbelievable."

During the cross country season last fall, Coffey finished third in the county and eighth in the state.

Coffey's second-place finish (19:02) ahead of two county rivals, Towson Johanna Admiraal (3rd, 19:17) and Dulaney's Kristin Meek (4th, 19:25), in the Barnhart Invitational highlighted the season.

"You have stiff competition in that race," Hereford cross country coach John Roemer said. "That was her chief performance. She was fearless."

It seems no Hereford cross country or track athlete takes practice more seriously than Coffey.

"In 20 years of coaching, she was the first athlete that has ever come up to me when she missed a workout and said, 'I want to make it up,'" Roemer said. "I said, 'I don't think its necessary. We have plenty of time.' She said, 'No, I want to do it right now."

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