Two Conway High School coaches have been named outstanding coaches for the 2019-2020 year by the Arkansas High School Coaches Association (AHSCA). Brian “Salty” Longing, Conway’s boys basketball coach, won the Lowell Manning Award for most outstanding coach in all sports and the Boys Basketball coach award. Conway’s swim and dive coach Craig Conner won the Boys Swimming and Diving coach award.
Longing, head coach of the boys’ basketball team since 2017, previously spent 16 years as Conway’s assistant coach. As an assistant, his team won the State Championship in 2010, were State Runner-ups in 2008, and notched three conference championships. Since taking over the head coaching job, Longing’s team added another State Championship this past season. Longing said the award is most valuable to Conway’s athletics program.
“At the end of the day, it’s really not as much about the personal recognition as it is the recognition it gives our program and our athletic department,” Longing said. “It’s a good day when any Wampus Cat program or coach gets statewide recognition.”
Conner has worked with both the swimming and diving team and the gold teams during his time at Conway. His boys’ swimming and diving team captured a State Championship of their own this year. Previously, as an assistant swimming and diving coach, his Wampus Cats’ girls’ team won the State Championship in 2013. Conner highlighted the contributions of his assistant coaches in speaking about the award.
“Kent Manion was my right-hand man who provided valuable wisdom and insight as we set our lineups and developed strategy,” Conner said. “Local club coaches Steve Hall and Chris Brynell did a phenomenal job training our swimmers this season. Finally, our diving coach Jordan Bell helped our divers achieve great success on the board. This award would not be possible without these four incredible coaches beside me.”
Other AHSCA award winners included:
Outstanding Girls Coach – Brad Johnson, Farmington
Football – Mark Kelley, Searcy
Boys Golf – Randy Osnes, Farmington
Girls Golf – Tim Carver, Mountain Home
Boys Tennis – Paul Seegraves, Piggott
Girls Tennis – Jason Manchester, Valley View
Boys Basketball – Salty Longing, Conway
Girls Basketball – Brad Johnson, Farmington
Boys Cross Country – Robert Blades, Mountain Home
Girls Cross Country – Timothy Hooten, Quitman
Boys Bowling – Darrell Davis, Lakeside, Hot Springs
Girls Bowling – Sandy White, Greenbrier
Volleyball – Craig Cummings, Jonesboro
Boys Wrestling – Derrek Aynes, Berryville
Girls Wrestling – Jerry Evans, Searcy
Dance – Charlotte Tarver, Bauxite
Cheer – Joni Wilson, Gentry
Girls Swimming – Kathleen Dingman, Magnolia