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FEATURED PROGRAM: Valor Christian High School, Highlands Ranch, CO

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

It's time to give credit where credit it due.

Each week, Coaching Distance will shine the spotlight on an exceptional high school distance program. This week's featured team is Valor Christian High School out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.


Colorado 5A


Greg Coplen

Head Boys & Girls Cross Country Coach

Boys & Girls Track & Field Distance Coach


Coach Coplen has coached for 10 years at Valor Christian HS and had one previous year of experience in Hereford, Texas. Additionally, he coaches adult runners training for a variety of distance events.

When asked what he enjoys most about coaching, Greg replied, "I love watching teenagers accomplish things they once thought impossible."



15 years into existence, Valor Christian High School is relatively new to the scene.

However, it didn't take long for Coach Coplen to steer the program towards the top of distance running in Colorado and beyond. The Valor Christian girls Cross Country squads have finished as the US #8, #4 and #14 in the past three years. This season, the boys were US #10. Recent graduate Cole Sprout was a three-time NXN All-American and distance standout on the track.

Coach Coplen wrote:

"Like most Cross Country programs within a high school, it started off as a slow build. Competitively, we were a mid to back of the pack 4A team in Colorado.

Really, beginning in about 2014, we started seeing the reward that comes from the work. We began experiencing some all-state finishes and state meet appearances with our individuals. As we developed more individuals, we started seeing the team accolades as well.

We became a pretty constant fixture in the Top 10 in the state, into the Top 5 in the state, and finally began to see those national rankings as well. If you finish in the top 5 in Colorado, there is a pretty good chance that you're going to be up in the national rankings as well.

Huge props to all of the kids that went before and laid the groundwork for where we are now. We really like that this all started with culture and was built off of that. Start with culture and good things happen."



  • Class 5A Runner-Up, to good friends and national powerhouse Mountain Vista HS, by 2 points

  • 10th in the US at the Garmin RunningLane National Championships

  • Class 5A 3rd Place behind nationally-ranked Arapahoe and Cherry Creek

  • 14th at the Garmin RunningLane National Championships

  • Brooke Wilson finished 11th at the national meet

  • Keeghan Edwards finished as the top FR in the US (16:58)

Coach Coplen remarked, "Most importantly we had a heck of a lot of fun this past season!"


  • Girls-2nd in the 4x800m Relay

  • Boys-3rd in the 4x800m Relay

  • Top 10 finishes in the 800 and 1600 for Drew Costelow

  • Top 10 finishes in the 1600 and 3200 for Ty Garrett

  • Top 5 finishes in the 1600 and 3200 for Taylor Whitfield and Brooke Wilson

  • Top 5 finish in the 800 for Reese Dragovich



Monday: Speed or speed Endurance followed by distance

Tuesday: Tempo or VO2 work

Wednesday: Distance run

Thursday: Support work. Long hills or just faster/slower than race pace intervals

Friday: Distance or pre-meet run

Saturday: Race or long run of some kind

Sunday: Rest, easy cross training or easy aerobic run

* We're also in the weight room twice a week.


Coach Coplen responded, "Track looks very similar for us in a normal week, with the exception of the support workouts for the multiple distances. And we race more often in track season than we do in cross country."


Coach Coplen gives some really great advice on how to implement VO2 workouts relative to the season.

"Oh man, I love all of the workouts! However, I really love a good VO2 workout every couple of weeks where we go 5x3min or 4x4min. In Cross Country season those workouts are closer to 15min race pace with about half-time recovery jogs. In track season our VO2 workouts are closer to 10-12 minute race pace with closer to equal time recovery jogs."


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