The Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2015-16 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
For the complete list of Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Christopher Nilsen
School: Park Hill (Kansas City, Mo.)
Weight: 200 pounds
Athletic achievement: The pole vaulter and jumper cleared 18 feet, 4.75 inches at the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet to break the national high school record. A two-time First Team All-State selection, Nilsen became the only prep to clear 18 feet in the pole vault twice in 2016 when did it at the Great Southwest Classic, earning a mark of 18-3. He won the pole vault again at the Kansas Relays, soaring 17 feet, 6.5 inches, captured an individual title at the Class 5 state meet with a vault of 16-9 and won a national title at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor by clearing 16-8.25.
Academic excellence: Nilsen has maintained a B average.
Exemplary character: A skilled parkour practitioner, which is an adapted obstacle course discipline, he is also a member of the Civil Air Patrol and his school’s concert band.
“Chris Nilsen is a great athlete and ambassador for the sport of track & field,” said Dan Davies, head coach at Liberty High. “So many times you see a kid who is successful at high level be consumed by an event and miss out on the team aspect of track and field. It’s Nilsen’s grin that I will always remember. He just enjoys life and makes others enjoy it too by witnessing his accomplishments.”
THE FUTURE: Nilsen has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete on an athletic scholarship at the University of South Dakota this fall.