Jeff Thompson Named National Coach of the Year

Veteran wrestling coach is fourth Flathead High School coach to earn national recognition

By Micah Drew
Flathead High School wrestling coach Jeff Thompson on Feb. 7, 2018. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Flathead’s Jeff Thompson was named the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Wrestling Coach of the Year at the organization’s annual convention on Wednesday.

Thompson was one of eight finalists for wrestling Coach of the Year following a 2024 season that saw the Brave Brawlers narrowly miss out on the Class AA state title, but which did see them claim a second-place trophy for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, Thompson guided the girls team to a fourth-straight podium finish in third place.

A three-time state champion at Great Falls High and a collegiate wrestler at the University of Minnesota, Thompson coached the Brave Brawlers from 2000 to 2008, building a program that produced 107 state placers, 48 state finalists and 13 state champions. Flathead won Class AA state titles in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and was ranked 10th nationally in 2008. The National Wrestling Coaches Association twice named Thompson the organization’s regional coach of the year.

Since taking over as the head Braves wrestling coach again in 2016, Thompson’s athletes have claimed six state championships, including back-to-back titles for both the boys and girls teams in 2021 and 2022. He was inducted into the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Legends Wall of Fame locally.

Another Montana coach, Huntley Project volleyball coach Iona Stookey, was also named National Coach of the Year.

Thompson is the eighth individual from the Flathead Valley to receive the recognition. Past recipients of the national honor include Bigfork’s Sue Loeffler (girls track and field, 2023), Whitefish’s Derek Schulz (boys track and field, 2017) and Terry Nelson (golf, 2006); and Flathead coaches Bob Raeth (boys assistant, 2018), Dan Hodge (boys track and field, 2013), Paul Jorgenson (girls cross country, 2010; boys cross country, 2008) and Joe McKay (girls track and field, 2000).

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