Coaches who guided their teams to 2021 Montana high school winter sports state championships received more accolades this week when the Montana Coaches Association announced its winter sports coaches of the year.
Kalispell Flathead's Jeff Thompson received two honors, as he was recognized for his efforts coaching the Flathead boys and girls wrestling teams. The Braves won the Class AA state team title, while the Bravettes won the first-ever girls wrestling state championship.
"We had a great girls state tournament, pulling in the championship there. That would be absolutely historic if Flathead could win both the girls and the boys. That would be just incredible for our school, our community and for our program," Thompson told MTN Sports in an interview prior to the boys state wrestling tournament, which his Braves won by edging Billings Senior for the top spot on the podium.
Fellow state champions Guy Melby of Sidney (Class A), Jory Casterline of Glasgow (B) and Ty Taylor of Circle (C) were also named wrestling coaches of the year.
All eight basketball state champions also earned coach of the year recognition. Kevin Morales of Billings Skyview (Class AA), Jim Stergar of Billings Central (A), Josh Stewart of Lodge Grass (B) and Jason Wolfe of Scobey (C) took home the boys honors, while Katie Garcin-Forba of Helena Capital (Class AA), Dustin Kraske of Havre (A), Kim Finn of Big Timber (B) and Cassie Pimperton of Fort Benton (C) received the girls honors.
Julia Shannon of Helena and Ed McNamee of Great Falls were named the Class AA boys and girls swimming coaches of the year. Shannon guided the Helena High boys to the team title, while McNamee's girls squads at Great Falls CMR and Great Falls High placed second and third, respectively.
Billings Central's Robyn O'Nan was named the Class A boys and girls swimming coach of the year after leading both team to titles at the Class A/B state meet.
The coaches will be honored at the 2021 MCA awards ceremony, which will take place at 11:30 a.m. on July 29 at C.M. Russell High School in Great Falls.