The Manchester Valley freshman controlled any obstacle she faced to become one of the state’s top high school cross country athletes in in her first season of varsity contention.
Goffena, the Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, won 10 of 12 races this season, including victories at the county championship meet and the Class 3A West meet.
She won the county title in 19 minutes, 24.4 seconds at McDaniel on Oct. 24, and finished 46 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Goffena led the entire way, and became the first Man Valley athlete to capture an individual county title since 2012.
“There aren’t words to describe how supportive my team was and how amazing my coaches were,” Goffena said. “I had an incredible time, I placed pretty well and I liked my times. I’m really proud of that and it was the best experience I’ve had.”
Goffena took a wrong turn at the beginning of the 3A West meet at Watkins Mill on Nov. 1, about 20 meters off the course, and she admitted the mishap got inside her head. She sprinted to catch up with the first runner, however, and passed a trio of athletes in the process.
The ground was made up and Goffena won the race with ease — about 18 seconds ahead of the field.
“I think it really speaks to Rubie’s confidence and how efficient she is with her energy,” Mavericks coach Nancy Hayes said. “She did not let a brief indiscretion or error alter her race. She was very resilient and I was so proud of her that day.”
Hayes said she had heard nothing but positive remarks about Goffena prior to her arrival at Man Valley this year. Goffena said she ran track and field for the Westminster Track Club’s youth team and competed in her first race in Brunswick a few years ago.
Running quickly became an active part of her lifestyle and she never let it go. Her mother, father, and sister run together, she said, and they often trained as a group over the summer.
“It’s definitely a huge support to have my family behind me supporting me through this,” Goffena said. “I support them through their workouts, so it was incredible they could help me and that we had each other to do workouts with. Sometimes it gets lonely to do workouts by yourself, so it’s nice to have each other to lean on.”
Goffena capped her rookie season with a fifth-place finish in the 3A state championship meet at Hereford High School on Nov. 10 in 19:26.5. The Mavericks practiced before the meet, which meant traversing the infamous “Dip,” and it was one of the most difficult courses Goffena said she had ever competed on.
“I had a little pressure on myself to do well,” Goffena said following the race. “I had to be in that mindset for the entire race and couldn’t get out of focus. I don’t think I did, so that’s good.”
Hayes said she was continuously blown away by Goffena’s success this season and her race results were a testament to how much of an asset she provided for the team.
“It’s been my priority the entire season to have her fall even deeper in love with the sport,” Hayes said. “She came in really passionate, with raw talent and such high spirits. I encouraged her this year to deepen her love of the sport and remain confident in her abilities and to use each race as a new opportunity to improve her own standards.
“She has incredibly high ones that her personal best was just such an incredible accomplishment every time.”
At the beginning of the season, Goffena said her goal was to continue improving her time in each race she ran. She finished first at a tri-meet Sept. 5 in 22:17.6, and ran much faster as the season went on.
She said one of her main goals is to race a sub-19-minute 5K as her career progresses.