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Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Man Valley’s Rubie Goffena setting a ‘higher bar’ with focus on fitness

Manchester Valley junior Rubie Goffena is the 2021 Carroll County Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Manchester Valley junior Rubie Goffena is the 2021 Carroll County Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Rubie Goffena knows it takes more than just physical ability to be a top-tier athlete.

The Manchester Valley High School junior and Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year recently embraced a more holistic approach to being the best in her sport.

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“I really got into yoga and I really like cooking now,” Goffena said. “Changing what foods I eat to see how it affects me physically. I like learning about different vitamins and minerals, how you can use them for your advantage.”

An enjoyment of cooking and the study of nutrition in sports is something that Goffena has really focused on in the last couple of years. It has helped her maintain an edge, while navigating the unique challenges of the pandemic.

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“I start my week out by creating this meal plan according to what kind of workouts,” she said. “You got speed, so you get more protein. If it’s a hot day, you want more sugars.”

With a solid nutritional plan to fuel her, Goffena has continued to develop as a runner and continually better her race times. It led to a very impressive spring season, with Goffena placing first in every meet in which she competed.

On March 13, she took first in a 3-mile run in a Man Valley meet against Liberty and Westminster. Four days later, she shattered a school record in the same event at another meet. Her record time of 19.07.0 bested the previous record by more than 10 seconds, according to school data on athletic.net.

She followed that mark by setting a season best for 3.1 miles at the Mavericks’ tri-meet March 20. The junior finished first in 20:11.53, nearly 50 seconds ahead of second-place finisher and all-county rival Kathryn Hopkins of Winters Mill.

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Manchester Valley's Rubie Goffena, left, and Winters Mill's Kathryn Hopkins lead the Carroll County Cross Country Championships at Carroll Community College in Westminster Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Goffena won the girls race with a time of 20:56.70 and Hopkins finished 2nd with a time of 21:13.13.
Manchester Valley's Rubie Goffena, left, and Winters Mill's Kathryn Hopkins lead the Carroll County Cross Country Championships at Carroll Community College in Westminster Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Goffena won the girls race with a time of 20:56.70 and Hopkins finished 2nd with a time of 21:13.13. (Dylan Slagle)

“She sets a high bar at practice and an even higher bar in competition,” MV coach Nancy Hayes said. “Seeing her compete and train, she is an exemplary role model. [Her work ethic] raises the intensity of each workout and each race. It motivates her field of competitors and her teammates to reach their highest potential. It is inspiring.”

Goffena’s inspired performance culminated with a victory at the Carroll County Athletic League meet on April 14, finishing the race in 20:56.7 at Carroll Community College. For Hayes though, races and competition only tell part of the story with Goffena’s impact.

“Rubie leads by positive example,” Hayes said. “Her ability to be so successful, yet so humble in her victories is what her teammates and coaches admire most about her. I feel like it’s that quality of being focused on all the right things, including nutrition, physical and mental health and positive relationships with teammates and even competitors.”

Being close with her Man Valley teammates is something Goffena said is very important to her and is something that she has fostered through her yoga and leadership during competition and workouts.

“She is a very well-rounded runner,” Hayes said. “And she has gotten her teammates involved in yoga and just having a very balanced sense of fitness. I think the other girls really look to her, with her optimism and her positive example. I have noticed the entire team has grow in maturity and just become healthier in myriad ways just by following her example.”

That positive mindset allowed Goffena to stay motivated and keep her eyes on her goals of being the best runner in the county, even when the pandemic had postponed all competitions in the area.

“There were definitely some tough days,” Goffena said. “In the unknown of when the season was going to begin was really tough. But I just kept in that mindset of it will start again. This isn’t the end.”

Having finally found a sport that she has a passion for, Goffena doesn’t intend to see her cross country journey end anytime soon. She has plans to compete at the next level.

“I didn’t really fit into any other sport. When I started running, [I found that] I really had a passion for it,” Goffena said. “I am definitely looking into running in college for sure. I can’t imagine my life without competition.”

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