FORT SHAW -- Fourteen Montana high school coaches and one athletic director have been named finalists for national coach and athletic director of the year honors, according to the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
Coaches are nominated by each member state, and eight finalists are selected in each sport category. The finalists will be honored during the National Coach of the Year awards banquet, which takes place at the NHSACA National Convention in Lincoln, Neb. on July 23, 2020. The national coach of the year awards will be presented in 19 categories.
Included in the Montana finalists are state championship mentors, including Helena High girls basketball coach Eric Peterson, Hardin girls cross country coach Cindy Farmer and Huntley Project volleyball coach Iona Stookey. Bigfork assistant James Epperly was nominated for the boys assistant of the year.
Other finalists from the Treasure State include the now-retired Scott King of Malta (athletic director of the year), Fairfield's Les Meyer (football coach of the year), Larry Smith and Bob Owen of Polson (girls softball and wrestling coaches of the year, respectively) and Bret Thompson of Charlo (boys track and field coach of the year).
According to the Montana Coaches Association release, nominees and finalists were selected based on "longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years and winning percentage. They are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching, using a sport-specific rubric to assign points in each category."
The complete list of Montana finalists can be found below.
National High School Athletic Coaches Association
Montana finalists for coach/AD of the year
James Epperly -- Bigfork, boys assistant
Jim Kola -- Kalispell Glacier, girls assistant
Scott King -- Malta, athletic director
Paula Barta -- Laurel, boys basketball
Eric Peterson -- Helena High, girls basketball coach of the year
Mark Albert -- Hamilton, boys cross country
Cindy Farmer -- Hardin, girls cross country
Les Meyer -- Fairfield, football
Gregg Wasson -- Harlowton, golf
Larry Smith -- Polson, softball
Julie O'Dell -- Hardin, special sports
Bret Thompson -- Charlo, boys track and field
Spencer Huls -- Corvallis, girls track and field
Iona Stookey -- Huntley Project, volleyball
Bob Owen -- Polson, wrestling