Athletes of the Year

2022 Big Sky Games Athletes of the Year

The Big Sky State Games 2022 Athletes of the Year are Klaire Kovatch of Seeley Swan and Dallas Redekopp of Lolo. Youth Athlete of the Year is Tucker Rice of Billings. These awards are designed to recognize individuals who best personify the ideals of the State Games movement: participation, sportsmanship, effort, and positive attitude.

Klaire Kovatch

Female Athlete of the Year Klaire Kovatch has competed in Big Sky State Games Track & Field for three years. She began her State Games debut in 2020, and has since broken two records, and earned a total of ten medals. In 2020, she won a Gold medal in Discus, a Bronze medal in Javelin and broke the Discus record 16-18 age group. In 2021, she earned an additional Gold medals in the Discus and Javelin, along with a Silver in Shot Put. This year, Kovatch broke the 19-29 age group Discus record with a throw of 170’07”. She also won Gold in Hammer Throw, Silver in Javelin and Bronze in Shot Put.

With COVID-19 putting an unexpected halt on her high school athletic career in 2020, Kovatch turned to the Big Sky State Games as an opportunity to compete. The State Games allowed Kovatch to fuel her passion and continue to get better when high school sport seasons were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Kovatch was named the Montana Gatorade Girls Track & Field Player of the Year in 2021. She is a three-time Class C discus champion, having won the event in 2018, 2019 and 2021. In addition to track & field, Kovatch played volleyball and basketball throughout her high school career. A Seeley Swan High School graduate, Kovatch now attends Colorado State University, where she competes in Track & Field.

Dallas Redekopp

Male Athlete of the Year Dallas Redekopp's love of Table Tennis began on his family farm in Oswego, MT where he played ping pong in a grain bin with his siblings. Redekopp continued to hone his play during high school study hall at Frazer High School and then at MSU-Bozeman in the recreation area at the dorms.

The Big Sky State Games Table Tennis competition has been part of Redekopp’s summer plans for over 30 years. Since 1986, he has accumulated 63 medals (Gold: 29, Silver: 16 and Bronze:18). This year Redekopp was the Bronze medalist in the Open A division and the Gold medal winner in the 70 plus division. Redekopp has participated in at least 43 documented Nationally Sanctioned Table Tennis Tournaments since 1994. He has also participated in many local Montana and Wyoming Tournaments for the last 30 years with many victories. Some national tournaments include the US Open, US Nationals and the 2017 World Veterans Championships. He is one of a few Montanans that participate at National tournaments.

Table Tennis commissioner Art Fust stated, “I believe Dallas sees Table Tennis as a true-life long activity sport for anyone to enjoy and receive the health benefits for many years.” Redekopp practices on a weekly bases and can be seen providing assistance and mentoring new Table Tennis athletes.

Tucker Rice

The Big Sky State Games Youth Athlete of the Year, Tucker Rice has competed in the Big Sky State Games for seven years. For the past four years, he has competed in Open Water Swimming, having earned six Gold medals in the event. This year, he was the overall champion in the 3K and 400M divisions. In 2018, he also competed in and earned 6 medals for Big Sky State Games Swimming, including four Gold, one Silver and one Bronze. Rice in additional earned a Gold medal in 2017 for the youth Triathlon and a Bronze medal in 2018 for the team Triathlon. His hard work put in behind the scenes is undoubtedly what has allowed Rice to accumulate a total of 14 medals and a champion title in the last few years of the State Games.

Rice is a member of the Billings Aquatic Club and placed 17th in the 2021 USA Swimming Open Water Junior National Championship, competing against the top swimmers in the country. Rice will continue his Open Water Swimming in September at the 2022 Western Zone Championships in Coronado California in a 5K race in the ocean.

At Western Zones this July, Tucker placed 4th (out of 106) in the 1500 M Freestyle and 6th (out of 142) in the 800 M Freestyle earning Futures Championship Qualifications in both of the events.

A driven student athlete, Rice spends about 20 hours training each week, on top of keeping up with homework from A.P. and honors classes. Rice was chosen as a recipient for the 2022 Big Sky State Games Character Counts Scholarship, which recognizes high school juniors who possess trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, citizenship and a caring nature.

Past Winners

*Indicates National Athlete of the Year
Year Name Sport
2021 Female: Linda Asleson Billiards
Male: Micah Snodgrass Track & Field
Youth: Paige Gershmel Weightlifting
Team: 406 Lady Warriors Softball
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
  Team: Onyx Soccer
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