Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Bruce Warren

Christensen to coach NHS cross country


Courtesy photo Kelly Christensen

Niwot High School Athletic Director Chase McBride announced that Kelly Christensen has been hired to coach the boys and girls cross country squads at Niwot next fall. Christensen will replace Tim Flamer, who resigned earlier this spring.

“Kelly comes to Niwot most recently from Palmer Ridge High School, where he coached his cross country team to a state championship in 2014 and a state runner-up in 2015,” McBride said. “Coach Christensen was also the head Boys Track Coach at Palmer Ridge were he coached his team to back to back state titles in 2014 and 2015. Before becoming a head coach at Palmer Ridge, Coach Christensen was an assistant coach at Thompson Valley High School where he helped lead the track and cross country teams to 6th, 4th, 3rd place finishes, respectively, and a state championship in 2012 with the 4A Girls Track and Field team.”

Christensen has received many honors in his coaching career. He was named Colorado High School Athletic Coaching Association 4A Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2015, as well as 2015 Colorado High School Athletic Coaching Association 4A Boys Track and Field Coach of the Year. He had previously been named 2014 Colorado High School Athletic Coaching Association 4A Boys Track and Field Assistant Coach of the Year.

Christensen is a former collegiate All-American runner at Western State in Gunnison, where he excelled, finishing third in DII Cross Country Nationals in 2004 and second in Nationals in 2005. He also won the DII Steeplechase in 2004. “I kind of fell into a situation at Western State,” Christensen said. “We won four national titles [in cross country] in five years. I sat out the year we didn’t win with mono.”

Before college, Christensen ran for Moffatt County High School in Craig, and finished fourth in the state in Class 4A cross country in 1999, graduating in 2000. After several years in the construction industry, Christensen turned to teaching and coaching after obtaining his masters in counseling at UNC.

Christensen, who is single, plans to move to Gunbarrel shortly, and scheduled the first summer practice for June 6. “We’ll probably start with a team barbecue to get to know everyone,” he said. The squad will practice five days a week, Monday through Friday, at 7:30 a.m. “The kids aren’t too happy about the early practice, but the parents like it,” Christensen noted. In July they will add an optional Saturday practice in preparation for the fall season.

“Obviously, Coach Christensen brings a wealth of knowledge, and running experience with him, but what impresses me most is his want to develop a student athlete,” McBride said. “He prides himself on helping young men and women to use athletics to learn life lessons. He is a once-in-a-life-time type coach. In the spring, Coach Christensen will join our track and field team as an assistant coach, where he will work with our distance runners.”

Christensen will also serve as a counselor at Niwot High School. “He was a hands down favorite in our candidate pool of counselors” McBride continued. “His student first approach is clearly genuine. He will be an amazing addition to our coaching staff, counseling department, and community.

McBride, who formerly served as athletic director at Berthoud High School, knew of Christensen when he was a coach at Thompson Valley High School in Loveland. “I heard he was interested in coming back up north, so soon as we had the opening I put my recruiting hat on.” Christensen knew Niwot’s track coach, Maurice Henriques, through the summer club track season. “Coach Mo and Chase called me,” Christensen said in explaining how Niwot approached him. “He [Henriques] has the same passion for track and running that I do.”

Christensen is excited about the new position, but said it was very hard to leave Palmer Ridge, especially the boys program. “On paper, there’s never been a more dominant team coming back,” Christensen, “but now they’ll have to compete against Niwot.”


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