High School Sports


State-championship coaches highlight Montana Coaches Association spring coach of the year honors

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jun 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:28:46-04

FORT SHAW — The Montana Coaches Association announced the winners of its spring coach of the year honors this week, with multiple state championship-winning coaches highlighting the list.

The MCA also included soccer and swimming on the spring ballots after discontinuing their “special sports” category at the March board meeting. Coaches must be MCA members to win the awards.

All eight track and field state champions were represented in the honors. Arron Deck of Kalispell Glacier and Craig Mettler of Missoula Sentinel were named the Class AA track and field coaches of the year after leading the Wolfpack and Spartans to convincing wins in Great Falls in late May. It was the first State AA championship in Glacier’s boys track and field history, while Sentinel won its second straight girls championship.

Wendy McKitrick saw Ennis twins Corbin and Tanner Wood win the Mustangs’ fourth consecutive State C boys title at Memorial Stadium in the Electric City, while Erika Kimm’s Manhattan Christian squad held off defending champion Fort Benton by less than four points for the girls title.

The state meet in Laurel saw Class A Corvallis, led by Spencer Huls, win the boys title, while Tammi Myers and Dillon captured the girls team championship. Heather Johnstone (Forsyth boys) and Susan Loeffler (Bigfork girls) saw their programs win Class B team championships. Loeffler and the Valkyries won their second straight title this season.

Class A and Class B-C champion softball coaches Mike Neubauer of Belgrade and Rob Ralls of Florence were recognized, while Helena Capital’s Mike Miller was the recipient in Class AA. The Bruins finished third behind runner-up Missoula Sentinel and undefeated state champion Great Falls High.

Manhattan Christian swept the Class C golf championships, winning individual titles and team championships in both boys and girls competition. Caidin Hill led the Eagles to the boys title, while Jillian Frye paced the Manhattan Christian girls. Co-head coaches Jeff Bellach and Tom Hubers shared the Class C golf coach of the year honors.

Travis Clark of Shelby and Michael Trudnowski of Missoula Loyola were named the Class B award winners after Clark’s Coyotes won the boys title and Trudnowski’s Loyola girls won their second title in four years.

The Class A tennis season saw a three-way tie for first place, with Corvallis, Hardin and Whitefish totaling 20 points each. Christopher Maul-Smith of Corvallis and Mike Flamm of Hardin shared the MCA coach of the year honors. Polson’s Robert Hislop took the Class A girls award, while Billings Senior’s Josh Miller, Great Falls CMR’s Anne Bulger, Missoula Loyola’s Patti Danforth and Choteau’s Carla May were each recognized, as well.

Missoula Hellgate swept the Class AA swimming titles in February, adding to M. Helen Houlihan’s legacy with the Knights. Robyn O’Nan and Billings Central won the boys and girls Class A championships.

Central’s Didier Ndidi led the Rams to a runner-up finish in the Class A girls soccer bracket, while Belgrade’s Ric Plante saw his Panthers defeat Whitefish in the boys title game. Jay Anderson and Missoula Hellgate won the Class AA boys soccer championship, while Mike Meloy and Helena High defeated Bozeman in the girls title game.

The Montana Coaches Association also announced its special awards, honoring Bridger’s Robin Smith for her 32-year career as a volleyball assistant, as well as Jeff Anderson’s 32-year tenure with the Kalispell Flathead wrestling program. Each was honored with the MCA’s assistant coach of the year accolade.

Bigfork’s Heather Epperly was recognized with the MCA spirit award, after serving as head cheer coach for 27 years. Malta’s Scott King was given the Bozeman Trophy Outstanding Contributor Award. King held a near-40-year career with the Mustangs and M-ettes, serving as football coach, wrestling coach, track and field assistant and athletic director. He has spent 16 years on the MCA board.

The complete list of MCA coach of the year recipients from the spring sports season, as well as the addition of swimming and soccer, can be found below.

Montana Coaches Association coach of the year recipients

Boys soccer (fall sport)
Class AA — Jay Anderson, Missoula Hellgate
Class A — Ric Plante, Belgrade

Girls soccer (fall sport)
Class AA — Mike Meloy, Helena High
Class A — Didier Ndidi, Billings Central

Boys swimming (winter sport)
Class AA — M. Helena Houlihan, Missoula Hellgate
Class A — Robin O’Nan, Billings Central

Girls swimming (winter sport)
Class AA — M. Helena Houlihan, Missoula Hellgate
Class A — Robin O’Nan, Billings Central

Boys golf
Class B — Travis Clark, Shelby
Class C — Jeff Bellach and Tom Hubers, Manhattan Christian

Girls golf
Class B — Michael Trudnowski, Missoula Loyola
Class C — Jeff Bellach and Tom Hubers, Manhattan Christian

Boys tennis
Class AA — Josh Miller, Billings Senior
Class A — Christopher Maul-Smith, Corvallis; Mike Flamm, Hardin
Class B-C — Patti Danforth, Missoula Loyola

Girls tennis
Class AA — Anne Bulger, Great Falls CMR
Class A — Robert Hislop, Polson
Class B-C — Carla May, Choteau

Class AA — Mike Miller, Helena Capital
Class A — Mike Neubauer, Belgrade
Class B-C — Rob Ralls, Florence

Boys track and field
Class AA — Arron Deck, Kalispell Glacier
Class A — Spencer Huls, Corvallis
Class B — Heather Johnstone, Forsyth
Class C — Wendy McKitrick, Ennis

Girls track and field
Class AA — Craig Mettler, Missoula Sentinel
Class A — Tami Myers, Dillon
Class B — Susan Loeffler, Bigfork
Class C — Erika Kimm, Manhattan Christian

Assistant coaches of the year
Robin Smith, Bridger — 32-year volleyball assistant
Jeffrey Anderson, Kalispell Flathead — 32-year wrestling assistant

MCA spirit award
Heather Epperly, Bigfork — 27-year head cheer coach

Bozeman Trophy Outstanding Contributor Award
Scott King, Malta — 36 years — football, wrestling, track and field assistant, athletic director and administrator. 16 years on MCA board.