The Big Sky State Games 2021 Athletes of the Year are Linda Asleson of Billings and Micah Snodgrass of Joliet. Youth Athlete of the Year is Paige Gershmel of Billings and the Team of the Year is The 406 Lady Warriors. These awards are designed to recognize individuals who best personify the ideals of the State Games movement: participation, sportsmanship, effort, and positive attitude.
Female Athlete of the Year Linda Asleson has been playing in the Big Sky State Games Billiard tournament for 17 years and has accumulated 13 Gold, 7 Silver, and 7 Bronze medals. In the Montana billiards community, Linda Asleson is often referred to as “the best women billiard player in Montana.”
Linda has the credentials to back up the title as she is currently ranked #47 of female players in the United States (based on Fargo Rate ranking that includes professional women). Also, won numerous pool tournaments in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, North Dakota, including state and national titles.
Male Athlete of the Year Micah Snodgrass has been participating in the Games for over 20 years. In that time he has participated in Track & Field, 5K Road Race, Cycling and Swimming. He has a total of 180 Big Sky State Games medals (97 Gold, 54 Silver, 29 Bronze).
Micah has several Big Sky State Games age group records. In 2011, he set the record time for the 60-64 Age Group of the 5,000m run with a time of 22:55.1. Five years later in 2016, he set the record time for the 65-69 Age Group of the 5,000m run with a time of 27:33.46; then in 2018 he broke his own record with a time of 26:57.5. In addition, he set the Pentathlon record for 65-69 age group in 2019.
The chance to compete nationally has taken Micah to three State Games of America: St. Louis in 1999, Colorado Springs in 2005, and 2013 in Hershey, PA bringing home a total of 4 Silver and 2 Gold medals from the State Games of America events. Since the 1970s, he has run five marathons and hundreds of running events in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and Montana.
Micah enjoys competing in so many events simply because he can and at 70 years of age he hopes to continue competing until he’s 80, with the hope of inspiring others to be involved in the Games and be active.
The Big Sky State Games Youth Athlete of the Year, Paige Gershmel has been competing in Olympic Weightlifting at the Big Sky State Games for five years. She started when she was 10 years old. She has earned three Gold medals. This year she was able to hit a total of 126 kg, the highest total of any female competing, including adults.
Paige’s strength and conditioning which she has built in the gym, has helped her in other sports as well, including football and wrestling at Senior High School. As a freshman, Paige played football as a middle linebacker, running back, and special teams on the freshmen team and was selected as part of the varsity travel team for the playoffs. This year Paige has solidified a position on the junior varsity team.
Last year Paige participated in the inaugural year for girls wrestling as a high school sport. She finished the season with a record of 8-2 and was the 3rd place finisher at the all-class state tournament. She won the “most take downs” award for Senior High as well as the “Woman in the Mirror” award that Senior High gives to the wrestling athlete that most exemplifies the spirit of teamwork, grit, and hard work.
Paige additionally competes in local CrossFit competitions and the CrossFit Open (a global online competition). For last 2 years she has finished in the top 200 in the world in the CrossFit Open.
The 406 Lady Warriors softball team started off as a “teacher league” consisting of teacher colleagues. Team membership has evolved over the years to comprise a diverse group of women.
The 406 Lady Warriors never gave up after losing all their round robin games during the 2021 Big Sky State Games softball tournament. They played with heart and grit during bracket to win the Gold medal in the women’s division. This was the team’s first championship win in any tournament and the second year competing in the Big Sky State Games.
Pitcher Jolene Beaumont-Spotted Bear stated “This year…we won a tournament which was truly special and moving for all of us. This tournament for Big Sky State Games was one of the greatest tournaments that I have ever participated in.”
Team members include: Jolene Beaumont-Spotted Bear, Kristin Birdinground, Joanna Round Face, Keaunna Mason, Kayla Grinsell, Grace Stadel, Birdie Fortner, Francis Autumn, Katherine Haugen, Holly Old Crow, Devona Lambert, Destiny Sky, Shelby Shrouds, and Misty McCormick. The members are from Arlee, Lame Deer, Crow Agency, Hardin, Pryor, Bozeman, Missoula, Columbus, and Billings.
|*Indicates National Athlete of the Year|
|2020||Female: Brenda Rose||Cycling|
|Male: Bob Sager||Track & Field|
|Youth: Taylee Chirrick||Track & Field|
|2019||Female: Lisa Reimer||Track & Field|
|Male: Dr. Gregory Dorow||Cycling|
|Youth: Peter Thompson||Swimming|
|Team: Wildwood Cloggers||Dance||2018||Female: Sharon Harris||Road Race, Cycling, and Swimming|
|Male: Sean Phelps||Road Race, Cycling, Triathlon, and Swimming|
|Youth: Mallory Simons||Shooting|
|Team: Hack Panthers||Curling|
|2017||Female: Kamber Kelly-Brodock||Volleyball|
|Male: Dave Winslow||Bowling|
|Youth: Hailey Poole||Track & Field, Volleyball, and Swimming|
|Team: Team Rio Grand Casino/Bud/Pepsi/Midland Implement/Dale Construction||Mens Softball|
|2016||Female: Mary Owen||Road Race|
|Male: Jim Wright||Armwrestling|
|Youth: Colter Barnett||Ice Hockey, Triathlon, Cycling|
|Team: Team Chase||Co-Ed Volleyball|
|2015||Female: Bobbi Knudsen||Basketball|
|Male: Al Vietz||Road Race|
|Youth: Torie Jamieson||Karate|
|Team: NAPA||Flag Football|
|2014||Female: Robin Hanel||Road Race, Track & Field, Cycling, Triathlon/Duathlon|
|Male: Brendan Murray||5k Road Race, 10k Road Race|
|Youth: Shea Esp||Swimming, Dance, Volleyball, Track & Field|
|Team: Rocky Mountain College Battlin' Bears||Adult Volleyball|
|2013||Female: Jen Reiter||5K Road Race, Biathlon, Triathlon, Volleyball 6-on-6, Volleyball Grass Doubles|
|Male: Bryan Brosious||Triathlon, Road Race, Swimming, Cycling|
|Youth: Ethan Harder||Swimming, Team Triathlon|
|Team: Dinosaurs of Doom||Adult Co-Ed Soccer|
|2012||Female: Anita Rawlinson||Road Race, Track and Field, Arm Wrestling and Swimming|
|Male: Ken Cottrell||Swimming, Cycling 25 mile, Triathlon, Track & Field|
|Youth: Megan Sweeney||Shooting Rifle Pistol|
|Youth: Hayley Moen||Track & Field|
|Team: Northeast Montana||Boys 11th/12th Grade Basketball|
|2011||Female: Lisa Minnehan||Road Race|
|Male: Cecil Pegram||Cycling, Road Race, Triathlon, Ballroom Dancing|
|Youth: Keegan Kampschroer||Swimming|
|2010||Female: Iona Stooky||Volleyball|
|Male: Steve Mysee||Cycling (Mt. Bike & Road Race), Triathlon, 5K Road Race|
|Youth: Zach Holmes||Archery|
|Team: Sure Shank Reception||Volleyball|
|2009||Female: Kristen Holland||Fencing & Road Race|
|Male: Lorn Welch||Dance Sport Ballroom|
|Team: GDR||Flag Football|
|2008||Female: Marlene Tetrault||Road Race, Tennis, Swimming, Cycling, Triathlon|
|Male: Garth Kallevig||Handball|
|Team: Montana Hoops||Girls 9th & 10th Grade Basketball|
|2007||Female: Denby Gardiner||Swimming|
|Male: Alan King||Road Race, Track & Field|
|Team: Karma||Flag Football|
|2006||Female: Sarah Graves||Road Race, Cycling, Triathlon, Biathlon, Track & Field|
|Male: Bryon Johnson||Armwrestling|
|Team: Res Gestae "Things Done"||Softball|
|2005||Female: Pat Jaffary||Road Race|
|Male: Lewis Elliot||Road Race, Cycling, Triathlon|
|2004||Female: Jen Allen||Track & Field|
|Male: Duane Cole||Road Race|
|2003||Female: Jennifer Drinkwalter||Triathlon, Cycling, Road Race|
|Male: Dan Berry||Cycling|
|2002||Female: Renee' Coppock||Cycling, Road Race|
|Male: Charles Jannings||Track & Field|
|2001||Female: Laura Esp||Swimming, Cycling, Road Race, Triathlon|
|Male: Tony Banovich||Road Race|
|2000||Female: Kathy Aragon||Cycling, Road Race, Track & Field|
|Male: Alfred Funk||Track & Field|
|1998||Female: Sue O'Connell||Karate|
|Male: Trent Hartl||Swimming|
|1997||Female: Cass Bauer||Basketball|
|Male: Dave Coppock||Road Race|
|1996||Female: Debbie Magilke||Road Race|
|Male: John Collins||Archery|
|1995||Female: Marjorie McLean||Swimming|
|Male: Lonn Saunders||Shooting|
|1994||Female: Exel "Ekkie" Wedul||Road Race|
|Male: Glen Kapitzke||Shooting|