Outstanding Coaches of the Year
Baseball – Ron Bradley, Springdale Har-Ber
Ron Bradley coached Springdale Har-Ber to its first baseball state title in 2018. The Wildcats won their final nine games, which was capped by a 6-0 victory over Conway in the 7A state championship. Har-Ber batted .333 as a team and the team’s pitching staff compiled a 1.62 earned run average. Har-Ber outscored its opponents 281-84.
Boys Basketball – John Hutchcraft, Guy-Perkins
John Hutchcraft’s going-away party ended in success. The All-Arkansas Coach of the Year won his 11th state title when Guy-Perkins defeated Izard County for the 1A state title. It was a special season for Hutchcraft, who notched his 2,000th career victory in January. Hutchcraft spent 42 years as a coach, the last 40 of which came with the Thunderbirds. Guy-Perkins finished 35-8 and the Thunderbirds ended the season on a six-game winning streak.
Girls Basketball – Daryl Fimple, North Little Rock
Daryl Fimple led North Little Rock to its second state title in three years. The Lady Charging Wildcats finished 26-4, beating Conway 66-49 in the Class 7A state championship game. It was North Little Rock’s third consecutive appearance in the state title game. North Little Rock averaged 63.9 points a game while giving up only 43.8 points.
Cross Country – Michelle Fyfe, Fayetteville
Fayetteville enjoyed a stellar year in cross country thanks to Coach Michelle Fyfe. The Bulldogs produced the state’s top cross country runner in junior Camren Fischer and the team placed second in the 7A meet. The Lady Bulldogs won the girls team title, placing five runners in the top 10. Fyfe has been the school’s head cross country coach since 2009.
Football – Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy
Since 2003, Kelley has won seven state championships. But Pulaski Academy’s Class 5A title in 2017 may have been the Little Rock school’s most impressive. The Bruins became the first school in the state to win four consecutive state titles since Barton won four Class A titles in a row in 1986-1989. Under Kelley, Pulaski Academy set the state’s all-time scoring record with 784 points, besting Junction City’s 2003 mark of 747 points.
Golf – Blake Mackay, Jonesboro
Jonesboro placed four golfers in the boys top seven of the Class 6A state tournament and two of the Hurricane’s team members — senior Brett Daughdrill and sophomore Ben Sherman — placed in the top seven of the Overall tournament. Coach Blake Mackey led Jonesboro to its eighth consecutive state title when his team fired a two-day 595, which was 37 strokes better than runner-up Greenwood.
Boys Soccer – Jared Fuller, Russellville
For the first time since 2015, the Cyclones are Class 6A state champions. Fuller guided Russellville past its longtime rival Siloam Springs 4-1 in the 6A final May 18. Under Fuller, the Cyclones finished 19-4-1 in 2018.
Girls Soccer – Nicole Inman, Bryant
The 2018 season was Inman’s first as Bryant’s head coach. But Inman helped lead the Lady Hornets to the Class 7A state championship match against Rogers. Bryant knocked off defending state champion Bentonville to reach its first state title match since 2015.
Softball – Kent Early, Bentonville
Kent Early has enjoyed plenty of success as coach of the Bentonville Lady Tigers, who won their third consecutive Class 7A state title last month. This year’s Lady Tigers may the most celebrated team in the program’s history. Bentonville was ranked No. 7 nationally by MaxPreps.com and No. 22 in the Xcellent 25 Writers’ Poll. Bentonville batted .440 as a team and had a team ERA of 1.31 on their way to a 31-3 finish.
Boys Swimming – Jo Beth Mathis, Valley View
Mathis led the Blazers to their second consecutive Class 1A-5A state championship. Valley View picked up an individual state title from Jack Little and had three relay titles. The Blazers outpointed Pocahontas 306-214 for their second state title.
Girls Swimming – Michael Kaminski, Fayetteville
Kaminski guided his team to their first state championship since 2001. Fayetteville had two state champions, senior Olivia Keith and junior Hailey Rissinger. The Lady Bulldogs outpointed Little Rock Central 387.5-361 and ended Bentonville’s three-year run as state champions.
Tennis – Tim Glancy, Little Rock Catholic
Catholic enjoyed an exceptional year on the tennis court, guided by Coach Tim Glancy. Five members of the Rockets’ tennis team played in the Overall finals with Henry Nolan and Steven Weeks defeating teammates Jackson Davis and Harrison Cook in the doubles finals and Parker Stearns reaching the singles finals. Catholic was an easy winner for the 7A boys team title with 19 points, finishing 13 points ahead of runners-up Little Rock Central and Fayetteville.
Track – Karl Koonce, Lake Hamilton
In his 37th season at Lake Hamilton, this legendary coach helped lead the Garland County school’s boys and girls track and field teams to the Class 6A state championships. It was the first time under Koonce that that feat had occurred. Lake Hamilton’s boys outpointed Texarkana 140.5-129 and the girls scored 100 points to Benton’s 90.
Volleyball – Krista Spoon, Baptist Prep
Baptist Prep made one of the most dramatic improvements among Arkansas high school volleyball teams. The Lady Eagles finished 11-18 in 2016, losing in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament. In her first year with the program, Coach Krista Spoon led Baptist Prep to a 28-6 record, including a 14-0 finish in conference play. The Lady Eagles advanced all the way to 4A state championship match, losing to Shiloh Christian, 3-1.
Wrestling – Bruce Dickey, Pulaski Academy
In his eighth season at Pulaski Academy, Dickey led the Bruins to their first Class 1A-5A state championship. Pulaski Academy outpointed Hot Springs Lakeside 316-229. He coached six individual champions and had all 13 of his wrestlers place in the state high school wrestling tournament in February at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.