Melissa Christensen runs the hurdles during heptathlon competition during the GLIAC Championships, held May 2-4 at Grand Valley State University. She finished fifth in both the heptathlon and in open long jump, helping Northern Michigan University finish in fourth place. (submitted photos)
IRON RIVER—Melissa Christensen, a 2008 graduate of West Iron County High School, recently completed her fourth and final year on Northern Michigan University’s women’s track team.
In her four years on the team, Christensen competed in pentathlon (60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run, all in one day), heptathlon (100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 dash, long jump, javelin and 800 run over two days), long jump, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay, 55-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles, triple jump and high jump.
Through four years of 6 a.m. practices (sometimes three different practices in a day because of all the events she took part in), hard work and determination, she provisionally qualified for nationals during the 2011-12 indoor season in pentathlon (ranked 30th in the country) and qualified during the 2012 outdoor season in the heptathlon (25th in the nation).
She also broke NMU women’s track record for the long jump, clearing 5.63 meters (18 feet, 5.25 inches) during the 2012 outdoor season.
While warming up for the high jump at the 2012 GLIAC championships, Christensen somehow managed to puncture a small artery on her ankle with a shoe spike. Despite that, she stayed in the competition and set a new personal best in the event, clearing 5 feet, 4 ¼ inches.
This fall, she will be a volunteer coach for NMU’s track team, coaching multi-event athletes.
In her spare time, Christensen is a volunteer with the Great Lakes Rodeo, coordinating the queen and court competition. She also competes in the Dream Ride Bull Riding event at the rodeo—she has ridden a bull for the past three years.