COLUMBUS, Neb. -- Columbus High School announced on Friday the hiring of a new boys and girls cross country coach. 

CHS announced that Christopher Sander will be taking over for Stacy Smith as the Discoverers Boys and Girls Cross Country Program.

Smith is retiring from teaching and coaching at the end of the school year. 

CHS said that Sander started his coaching and teaching career at Chase County High School.

Sander has been at CHS since 2013 as a math teacher and coach. He has coached middle school and high school track and field, high school football, and high school cross country. 

"A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hire Chris as an assistant cross country coach, and I've been thoroughly impressed with his work ethic, passion for coaching, and his ability to connect with our student-athletes," said Tim Kwapnioski, director of CHS Athletics and Activities. "Over the years, Discoverers cross country has had its share of quality distance runners. Coach Sander is all about serving student-athletes through quality coaching, leadership, and energetic motivation."

Kwapnioski said they are looking forward to him officially starting this summer, and the impact he will have on the program. 

"I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the Discoverer Cross County team," Sander said. "While we lose a great group of senior boys we will still be very experienced next year. We return every girl from last year's squad and half of the boys varsity team with some guys ready to step in and fill the spots needed.

I am excited to continue the great things Coach Smith had going on the past few seasons and look forward to building on the historical success of the program. I thank Mr. Kwapnioski for the trust to lead the program and Coach Smith for her mentorship over the years."

CHS said Sander received his undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.