All season long, Annapolis High's Maria Coffin was training and preparing for the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in San Diego. Her goal was to leave it all on the course and improve from her 27th-place finish last year.
After qualifying third from the Northeast Regional meet in the Bronx, Coffin decided to go out slow on Saturday and launch her assault around the two-mile mark, going from 20th to 10th in the last mile and earning second-team All American honors along the way. She surpassed her goal of top 15 with a 17:50.2 finish.
"It was my strategy to start toward the middle, even toward the back was fine because last year I went out too fast and I took a lot out of me and I just didn't have enough left for the end," Coffin said in a phone interview following the race. "After that I just slowly started moving up and I definitely made surges on the hill and I passed a lot of people there. During that finishing stretch I was able to just hold them off and I was able to get 10th place and I was really happy with that."
Claudia Lane of Malibu High School in Malibu, California won the race in 17:04.8. Hayley Jackson of Patuxent High School was the top finisher from Maryland, coming in at 17:49.7, just a half second ahead of Coffin as the Old Line State had four representatives, the most in its history and one that helped Coffin feel comfortable both before and after the race.
"It was just a lot more relaxing before the race just to talk with people that I have known for a long time and just all be relaxed," Coffin said. "It definitely helped and during the race I definitely saw Abigail and Hailey up there and it was just very familiar and I just kind of knew that all these other runners they are just like Abigail and Hailey. We all come from different states and have that same level of competition so it definitely did help with easing the nerves a little bit."
Coffin finishes her career as a back to back state champion, a three time county and region champion and now an All-American as well as the distinction as the best female cross country runner in the school's history.
"I am just so happy to have that be my last cross-country race of the year, to end up an All-American because that has definitely been a goal," Coffin said. "I mean, my freshman year I would have probably not seen that as possible, but I am glad that I made it here and I feel like I have a lot more left for college.''