It is impossible to know what Maryland's distance running scene would look like today if Annapolis High School senior Maria Coffin had not come along. Would four Maryland girls have qualified for Footlocker Nationals last fall if Coffin had not paved the way the year before? Would girls from the north, east, south and west ends of Maryland be breaking 5:00 in the 1600m and 11:00 in the 3200m with regularity?
Maybe. This influx of talented female distance runners from very different corners of the state could be entirely coincidental. Coffin had no direct influence on races in the 2A classification, but there is no question that she has directly impacted the high school career of 4A rival, Abigail Green of Walter Johnson High School.
"I kind of followed her as a runner. I looked up to her," said Green of Coffin after their final high school matchup at the state championship meet. Coffin will graduate and attend Providence next year while Green is the heir apparent of Maryland's 4A classification.
"It's always been a really friendly rivalry," said Green. "We always bring out the best in each other."
Green wants to be the best and win state titles, but the road to states for the last two years went through Coffin. As a sophomore, Green became strong enough to challenge Coffin, but Coffin always had the best kick. This winter, Green finally got the best of Coffin when they split indoor state titles. Green won the 3200-meter indoor state title and Coffin won the 1600-meter indoor state title.
History repeated itself at the outdoor state championship meet when Green won the 3200-meter and Coffin won the 1600-meter.
"The 32 is always in my heart," said Green after winning her second 3200-meter state title, "So I was really happy to be able to pull out the win for that one."
The Friday evening wind that was measured in excess of four meters per second during the sprint trials caught the distance runners off guard down the backstretch of the 3200-meter races.
Said Green, "I didn't realize how windy it was until I started, and then I realized, 'Whoa, I'm in front so I'm really taking all of it.'"
After three laps, she said that she deliberately slowed down and allowed Coffin to move into the lead. Allowing Coffin to lead for the middle laps of the race allowed Green to have the strongest finish over the final three laps.
"I really wasn't going for time so I was ok if we slowed down a little bit by switching places or being careful with the wind."
When she regained the lead on the sixth lap, her move was definitive. She dropped from an 86 second fifth lap to an 80 second sixth lap. Her lead continuously grew until she crossed the finish line with a ten second lead in 10:45.66. The performance jumped over Nora McUmber (B-CC 2014, 10:45.68) as the third fastest Montgomery County 3200-meter runner in state meet history. The top two are Sally Glynn (WJ 10:24.77 in 1995) and Jessie Rubin (Wootton 10:41.28 in 2010).
Because she had won her favorite race, Green described the 1600-meter race the next day as "less stressful." That's not to say that she took it easy. She ran a very even race with 75 second laps, and with less wind in her face, she led for about 1500 meters of the 1600-meter race. True to her reputation, Coffin had the greatest kick in the field and edged Green 4:58.34 to 4:59.24.
"She's always had really great speed at the end. I'll probably work on my speed," said Green. "It wasn't exactly the training season that I wanted just from being sick throughout the season. I was just really happy with how I was able to do. If you told me I'd do this at the beginning of the season I'm not sure I would have believed it."
The 4A rivals had time to become acquainted on their trip to San Diego for Footlocker Nationals last fall. There is only respect and not a drop of bad blood between the two according to Green.
"We're really friendly. We always tell each other good luck and good job after the race. It's really nice to have somebody like her because she's very nice to talk to...So I'm going to miss her, but I wish her luck at Providence. I'm sure she's going to do great."