HELENA — Former longtime Helena High football and track and field coach Tony Arntson has been selected for the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Arntson, the current cross country and track coach at Great Falls’ University of Providence, coached Bengal football for 24 years, and HHS track & field for 20 years. His grid teams played in four State championship games, while his tracksters captured two AA titles.
“Well, it was a surprise phone call when I found out, and it’s very humbling,” Arntson said regarding his induction, which will take place with eight other Treasure State prep coaches in July. “I spent the night texting all of my assistants at Helena from the good old days. It was a great ride, I worked with some awesome kids, and I’m very honored to be put in (the HOF) with guys that I respected and who mentored me.
“I have to thank my wife Robyn most of all, the things I put her through for 30 years, it’s such a rat-race. But I’m really thankful for all the great times I experienced, and the great people I’ve been associated with over the years, way too many to mention. Except for my boys – I was very blessed to have coached Troy and Ryan.”
An all-around athlete for CM Russell, Arntson quarterbacked the Rustlers to a State football crown in 1982, before his college grid career with the University of Montana.
He began coaching as a CMR assistant, and then head coach at Class C Charlo, before taking the HHS Bengal football program in 1994. When Arntson resigned in 2017, his career record of 161-91 (.639 winning percentage) consisted of only four losing seasons, while guiding Helena to 18 post season appearances.
He closed out his career with 12 consecutive winning seasons, reaching the playoffs every year, while posting a 105-36 mark during that streak for a .743 winning percentage. His HHS gridders brought home State runner-up trophies in 1998, 2001, 2010 and 2017.
Arntson took over as the Bengals head track coach in 1998, garnering AA championships in 2005 and 2015. His tracksters also collected three State runners-up trophies (1999, 2004, 2014) and a pair of third-place finishes (2016-17).
Arntson then spent one year as a Carroll College football assistant, before taking the reins of Providence’s inaugural cross country program last fall.
Curt Synness can be reached at 594-2878 or email@example.com. He’s also on Twitter @curtsynness_IR
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