Wes Knutson, who spent 18 years leading the Columbia Falls High School wrestling program to local and state prominence, was inducted into the CFHS Hall of Fame on Saturday during ceremonies at the high school.
Knutson is the first Columbia Falls coach honored with HOF status since the late Larry Schmautz was inducted in 1998 and the fifth overall.
“Obviously I’m very thankful to be selected,” Knutson said. “It’s quite an honor.
“Along with that, a lot of credit goes to the assistant coaches I had,” he added.
“I was very blessed with a lot of assistant coaches in all the sports I coached.
“I had great parental support, community support and had some great student athletes. I have so many great memories with those kids. That’s what it was all about.”
Knutson’s brilliant career includes nomination for the Montana Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award nine times, winning it once in 1990.
Knutson’s 1990 Mat Cats captured the Class A state championship. His squads were runners-up twice, placed third three times and placed in the top five at state a total of 11 times.
Knutson coached 13 individuals to state titles, had 105 all-state wrestlers and 47 divisional champions. His dual record at Columbia Falls is 176-97. Overall, it is 200-119.
Knutson came to Columbia Falls from Valier in 1987.
His overall coaching career spans 29 years (60 total seasons) and four sports. He was a three-sport coach for six of those years and coached two sports for 19 years.
His resume includes 24 years as a wrestling coach, 22 as a head coach, 23 years in track, 12 as a head coach, nine years in football and four years in volleyball.
Knutson spent 19 years with the Columbia Falls track program, 10 as head coach, winning two Class A state trophies, placing second in 2004 and third in 2005. His teams also won four divisional titles.
He retired from coaching after the 2011 school year.
Knutson teaches health enhancement at the high school.
“It was a special night for me,” Knutson said of the Saturday ceremony.
“(My wife) Dixie was there, all three of my daughters, that made it so special along with my mom, sister, brother- in-law and two grand boys.”