In this day and age of specialization, Troy Arntson is a rare five-sport athlete.
The Helena High senior competes in football, basketball and track and field for the Bengals; hockey for the high school Helena Bighorns; and baseball for the American Legion Helena Senators.
And Arntson is not just an average player. He was a two-time all-stater in football, an all-conference selection in basketball, and the team batting champion in baseball.
He will leave HHS with nine letters, and is no slouch in the classroom either, where he sports a 3.6 GPA.
So how is the 5-foot-7, 155-pound Arntson able to maintain a high level of performance year-round in five sports, while maintaining high grades, in addition to being one of the school’s most popular and respected athletes?
“Focus, knowing his abilities, and a passion for playing the game, along with a good bloodline from his mother’s side has contributed,” answered Troy’s father — and football and track coach — Tony Arntson. “Troy is a very disciplined person in keeping his days organized. He eats and rests very well. He does not waste any time during the week days, which allows him to have a social life on the weekends with all of his friends.
“Troy’s been able to hold true to his beliefs and not judge others for their individual personalities. That has made him a very strong character and allows him to socialize in many different crowds.”
Arntson’s first sport was wrestling, which he took up at just 3 1/2 years of age, with the East Helena Wrestling Club. He won a USA Greco Roman state championship when he was 7, before switching to hockey.
Football is Arntson’s favorite sport, and that’s what he is pursuing at the next level for Carroll College.
On the gridiron, he was a two-time GF Tribune Super-Stater, and was selected for the both the East-West Shrine Game, and the MonDak Badlands Bowl.
Arntson helped the Bengals to a 17-5 mark over the past two seasons, and his name is sprinkled throughout the school’s record books.
He was the first gridder in Bengal history to set season records at both quarterback and receiver, including 951 receiving yards, 168 pass completions, 2,702 total yards, 68 percent pass completions and 29 passing/
Arntson is second on Helena High’s list in five categories, with 22 pass completions and four TD passes in a game (tie); 2,091 passing yards and 21 TD passes in a season; and 69 season receptions.
He ranks third in career passing/rushing TDs (34), fourth in career total yards (3,046), and fifth in career completions (191) and career passing TDs (23, tie).
He is also sixth in game receiving yards (172) and career passing yards (2,298); tied for seventh in game receptions (eight); and eighth in game passing yards (288) and season receiving TDs (nine).
“I like football best, because it was my dad’s sport, and he’s been my inspiration,” said Troy, who will most likely play inside slot receiver for the Saints.
Tony was part of two state championships as CM Russell’s quarterback in 1982 and 1984, before becoming the signal-caller for the University of Montana.
A three-year starter for the basketball team, as a junior Troy was named second team all-conference, while leading the club with 34 steals and being the second-leading scorer with 7.2 points per game average.
This year, Arntson was No. 2 for the Bengals in scoring and assists, at 8.7 ppg and 2.4 assists. He paced HHS with 32 3-pointers and was ranked second in the state with 44 steals.
After the red-and-white qualified for their first state tourney in six years, he helped the No. 8 Bengals to three straight upsets and a third-place trophy, for their highest finish at state since 2003.
Arntson averaged 9.7 points, with 14 assists and six steals, and was selected to the all-tournament team.
All year long Helena hoops coach John Hollow said, “It’s no secret that as Troy goes, so goes our offense.”
On the rink, Troy was part of a Bantam 13-year-olds state hockey championship in the youth leagues. But he hadn’t skated for several years until joining freshman brother Ryan — with whom he has a special relationship — on the prep Bighorns this past winter.
During four games in early December, playing forward, Arntson went on an offensive tear, scoring five goals and passing for five assists.
“One of the dads told me that he wasn’t sure he knew of another kid that scored five goals and 20 points on varsity in a four-day span,” Tony said.
On the track, Troy runs the short sprints and a leg on the 400-meter relay.
He has been timed in 11.7 seconds for the 100, but is even quicker in a shorter sprint, having clocked a 4.5 in 40 yards for the football team.
“I’m just glad that I got my mom’s speed,” laughed Troy, referring to mother Robyn’s 1984 state relay championship for CM Russell.
In a game that some believe might be his best, Arntson is beginning his second year as starting shortstop for the Helena Senators this spring.
Last year, he won the team’s Earl Tucker Award with a healthy .421 batting average. He also led the Senators in four other offensive categories: 69 hits, 43 runs, .478 on base percentage and 20 stolen bases.
“Troy is a respected member of the Senators; his teammates believe in him, as he believes in them,” Helena coach Dave Thennis said. “He is a dynamic player both offensively and defensively.
“He’s able to make defensive plays that few others are capable of making — he has tremendous lateral agility and a solid throwing arm, making him one of the finest shortstops in the state. And offensively, Troy will be a force in the middle
of our lineup again this season.”
Arntson said he has enjoyed growing up as the son of a coach, and attributes much of his success to his dad.
“I love being a coach’s son; it’s been an awesome experience,” he said. “My dad doesn’t treat me any differently than any of his players, and he’s given me a ton of advice over the years.
“Mainly, he’s taught me about being a leader and how to be successful, and he’s an example of that in practice and during games, and in just going to school every day.”
Tony related that he communicates with his sons about playing hard, having fun and being respectful to the game and all the people involved, both on and off the field.
“The one thing I’m most proud of is how Troy treats other people; he’s just a good person,” Tony said. “He respects people for who they are and treats nobody negatively.
“Troy takes pride in everything he does, and he wants everybody around him to be successful and to feel good about what they are doing.”