Athletes of the Year

2021 Big Sky Games Athletes of the Year

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.

Linda Asleson

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.

Micah Snodgrass

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.

Paige Gershmel

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

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.

Past Winners

*Indicates National Athlete of the Year
Year Name Sport
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