STILLWATER, Minn. - When Stillwater distance coach Scott Christensen speaks, his team wants to listen.
“I’ve never heard anyone interrupt him,” junior Will Seck said.
“He just has story after story after story,” senior Noah Kneeskern said. “I’ve only heard a few repeats in four years.”
Through 36 years at Stillwater, Christensen has not only earned the respect of his community, but he’s also seen as one of the best high school distance coaches in the country.
The stats speak for themselves: winning a combined 10 state titles in both track and cross country, while coaching a combined 25 individual champs along the way.
“It sets the bar high,” senior Cole LeBourgeois said. “You see Wade Hall, you see Ben Blankenship, and you want to strive to be like them because you know Scott has put them through the exact same workouts you have been put through.”
A science teacher by day, Christensen’s workouts are nationally known.
“I always feel like the mad scientist,” Christensen said. “I’m always in search of new research, and anything that has to do with endurance: I’m into it.”
In fact, these same workouts have helped Stillwater grads like Blankenship reach the highest level.
“Well, it’s been tough on my bank account,” Christensen said. “I do go to their big races.”
“Without him, I don’t know where I’d be,” Blankenship said.
But Christensen doesn’t care much for living in the past.
“Ben Blankenship doesn’t want to hear this, but I still think my best distance runner is yet to be coached,” Christensen said. “My best team is still out there somewhere.”
That’s why at 62 years old, it’s full speed ahead.
“I still run 35 to 40 miles a week,” Christensen said. “I can’t even imagine not coaching.”
Especially when the next generation of Stillwater standouts could include his grandson.
“He’s just been such an inspiration to me,” freshman Bayley Foster said. “Now that I can be with (my grandpa) and train next to him, it’s just such an honor.”
Christensen is a member of six Minnesota Halls of Fame — two as an athlete, four as a coach. During his coaching career, four Stillwater grads have gone on to run sub-four minute miles. Five Stillwater grads have competed at the USATF National Championships.