Multi-sport standout Jackson Thennis is prepping to play in the upcoming State AA basketball tournament with his Helena High teammates. And he'll do so with the weight of a college decision lifted.
Thennis, also a multi-year starter for the football team, has committed to continue on the gridiron for St. John's University in Minnesota. St. John's is an NCAA Division III school in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Johnnies were formerly coached by John Gagliardi, who started out at Carroll and, from 1949-2012, amassed college football's all-time winningest record (489-138-11). Gagliardi captured four national championships with St. John's -- NAIA titles in 1963 and 1965, and NCAA D-III crowns in 1976 and 2003. Division III's player of the year award, started in 1993, is named after the famed coach.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Thennis was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Bengals, making honorable mention All-State as a junior.
Thennis established school career records of 3,067 yards passing (old record, Taylor South, 2,928), 34 passing touchdowns (old record, South, 27) and 48 combined passing/rushing TDs (old record, Matt Upham, 42). He also tied Troy Arntson's season mark of 29 passing/rushing TDs.
Thennis is second on HHS' list in career total offense (3,711 yards); third in season passing yards (1,842) and season total offense (2,371 yards); and fourth in season completions (130), career completions (213) and season TD passes (19).
He will leave HHS with five varsity letters -- three in football and two in basketball. He is also entering his fifth year of American Legion baseball, having two seasons with the Reps and the last two on the Senators.
"Jackson is an incredible competitor with great toughness," HHS football coach Tony Arntson said, "and he's an even better teammate and student.
"He has a bright future, and I'm very happy for him and his parents."
The son of Steve and Anna Thennis, Jackson carries a 3.65 GPA and plans on majoring in chemistry.