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Engineering Senior Led UM Team in College BattleFrog Competition

Christopher ‘Jack’ Coffin

Jack Coffin spurred teammates to second place in rigorous nationally televised challenge

When four University of Mississippi students placed second in the first-ever BattleFrog College Championship in Orlando, Florida, Christopher “Jack” Coffin couldn’t have been more proud.

That’s because the 22-year-old senior general engineering major from Ruckersville, Virginia, led his three teammates in the ESPN2-televised completion. BattleFrog is an obstacle race that was inspired by U.S. Navy Seals training.

Kim Duff, 24, a 2015 graduate from Greensboro, North Carolina; Josh Brenc, 19, a sophomore from Chicago; and Emily Lewis, 20, a senior from St. Louis, also represented the university. The collegiate tournament featured a 400-meter relay, which accompanied more than 20 challenging obstacles for contestants to overcome. The Ole Miss team was among 16 teams competing in a single-elimination tournament in hopes of winning a collegiate title, a $10,000 grand prize and the Trident Cup.

“I had heard about the competition through my twin sister, who is the female elite captain of the BattleFrog race team,” Coffin said. “I asked Josh through training together in Navy ROTC, and I had met Emily our freshman year and was impressed with her work ethic and enthusiasm for crossfit. Kim and I have been great friends since sophomore year, and as a strong performer on the Ole Miss women’s soccer team, I knew she still had that competitive and athletic edge. It was hectic getting the team together at the last minute, but everyone was excited to give it a shot.”

The Ole Miss contingent was not even on the original 16-team roster for the tournament, which was staged March 12-15. The University of Texas team dropped out last minute, thus opening a spot for the Ole Miss squad to enter the competition as first alternate.

“I remember when Jack told me about it I, thought it sounded super-cool,” Lewis said. “Leading up to forming the team and then being accepted to the tournament, it was all so sudden. We did not really have a clue how the competition would be structured. We only had a description of obstacles that would be featured at the race.”

“I didn’t think twice about joining the team,” Duff said. “The experience turned out to exceed my expectations. Not only did we compete well with this team we threw together in two weeks, but it was a blast.”

The tournament structure over that March weekend allowed teams to go through the course on Friday for time trials that would affect seeding for the rest of the weekend. The Saturday and Sunday events featured matchups of seeded teams until only two teams remained. Obstacles included rope climbs, monkey bar courses, wall climbs and more, all designed to test the physical limits of participants.

“Most teams didn’t know what to expect when they entered the competition,” Coffin said. “The race was a sprint, but many schools brought their triathlon teams expecting a longer course. We brought a strong team, allowing us to move through the obstacles more quickly, and Emily and Kim were some of the strongest females in the competition.”
Coffin took the reins as team captain, helping strengthen the group’s bonds and taking the necessary steps to enter them into the competition.

“It takes everyone on the team to succeed and only one person to fail,” Coffin said. “That is how these type of races work. But we didn’t have a weak link, and we worked extremely well together. We all felt honored to represent our school in such an exciting competition.”

Coffin chose to major in general engineering with an emphasis on naval science because it increased his chances of picking up a Navy scholarship.

“Eighty percent of Navy scholarships are awarded to engineers, and the emphasis on naval science allowed me to use my ROTC classes towards my major and graduate on time, without spreading myself too thin,” Coffin said. “As an ensign in the United States Navy, I will be reporting to Coronado, California, for Basic Underwater Demolition school, where I will begin training as a naval special warfare officer.”

Written by Edwin Smith
Story and photo courtesy UM Communications

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