The Manchester Valley freshman conquered Hereford High School’s infamous course, including the anticipated “Dip,” and raced to fifth place at the Class 3A cross country state championship in 19 minutes, 29.45 seconds.
Goffena, who also captured the county championship and 3A West title within the past two weeks, capped her first championship season just the way she had hoped.
“I gave it my all,” Goffena said. “I tried my very best and I’m very proud of how I placed and how my time was. It was a difficult course for sure.”
Much of the course’s difficulty can be attributed to “The Dip,” a steep ravine that runners must ascend and descend twice during the final mile. Many coaches and bystanders gather on the hill looking down on the ravine as athletes run up it the second time, encouraging them to not look back and focus on the next runner ahead.
Goffena said the Mavericks practiced the huge hill prior to Saturday’s state championships, but it did not make it any less difficult.
“I’m just so incredibly proud,” Mavericks coach Nancy Hayes said. “She was physically and mentally prepared and she ran very intuitively with high-caliber athletes and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
After crossing the finish line 35th in 21:48.07, Westminster senior Erin McGrath found Goffena and the two embraced. Manchester Valley and Westminster are the county’s lone 3A teams, and the athletes commonly compete against one another, especially during championship season.
McGrath was the Owls’ top finisher, and teammate Audrey Taylor came in 44th. The Owls took 11th out of 19 scoring teams with 286 points, just over a week after capturing the 3A West team title.
Francis Scott Key sophomore Maria Leppo finished 25th in the Class 1A girls race in 22:47.31. Teammate Lakota Comeau came in 28th in 23:11.42 and the Eagles placed seventh out of 15 teams with 227 points.
Winters Mill sophomore Kathryn Hopkins finished third in the Class 2A girls race as Carroll’s top finisher in 19:57.27. Hopkins said her goal was to finish in under 20 minutes, and she used the ravine to pick off runners on the first run and added on to that at the back half of the course.
“Our goal is really to do our best at these three races and it wasn’t just her race, it was how she ran,” Falcons coach Ben Brown said. “running smart in the first mile and picking it up on the other side towards the maze and the soccer field just picking up some places at that point.”
South Carroll’s Danielle Firlie finished seventh in 20:35.58 and the county champion Cavaliers took sixth with 166 points.