Jess, Ludwig and O’Neil receive Coach of the Year honors

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, December 17, 2020
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Jim O’Neil, Aloma Jess, Mike Ludwig

In a fitting finish to a remarkable fall sports season which saw Laurel High School win four–of–six possible Class A State Championships, three of the four head coaches have been named Coach of the Year by the Montana Coaches Association. They were selected by a vote of member coaches for their respective fall sports. This fall LHS won State titles in football and girls golf, cross country and soccer.

Lady Loco Head Soccer Coach Aloma Jess is no stranger to post season honors and is receiving the award for the second consecutive year. She also received the United Soccer Coaches Regional Coach of the Year in 2017 and United Soccer State Coach of the year in 2019 and 2020. Since she began coaching in 1999 the girl’s team has racked up four State titles (2014, 2017 and 2019–20) and four runners–up under her leadership.

For fourth year boys and girls golf coach Jim O’Neil this was his sixth state title overall and third in a row for the girl’s team who dominated the season, winning every Class A tournament in blowout fashion and stretching their victory streak to 25 consecutive tournaments over three years. This is the fourth year in a row O’Neil has been selected Coach of the Year by the MCA. The boys won State in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and the girls won in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Loco football team is still riding the high from the State Championship win against bitter rival Billings Central on Nov. 14 and Head Coach Mike Ludwig is Coach of the Year for the second time. He won the award for the first time in 2002 in his second season of coaching, a year that saw Laurel win their second State Championship. During their 8–1 2020 season they rebounded from an early loss to Central and knocked off undefeated and #1 ranked Hamilton on the road in the playoffs before pummeling the Rams 34–0 in the title game.

Congratulations to all the coaches, players and managers at LHS, and thank you all for the awesome fall sports season!

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