(Editor's note: BSSG media release)
BILLINGS - The Big Sky State Games 2019 Athletes of the Year are Lisa Reimer of Laurel and Gregory Dorow of Billings. Youth Athlete of the Year is Peter Thompson of Billings. The Big Sky State Games Team of the Year is The Wildwood Cloggers from Billings. 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: Lisa Reimer began participating in the Big Sky State Games Track and Field Discus and Shot Put events over 25 years ago. Since then, she has won over 30 medals. Reimer has only missed a handful of State Games, and for good reason; due to pregnancy and in 2006 due to kidney failure.
She holds seven State Games records in two events: three in shot put and four in discus. This year, Lisa broke her own record in shot put for her age group. In the last five years, she has won Gold in both shot put and discus.
Lisa has given back to her sport, coaching track and field for many years, beginning in 1984, and off and on until she retired in 2010. She also retired from teaching in 2017 after a successful 33 year career. In 2018, she missed the kids so much that she became a volunteer track coach for Laurel High School.
In addition to her recent accomplishments, Reimer is a Class C State Champion in the Shot Put and Discus in 1978-1979. She took her talents to Missoula to compete for the University of Montana Grizzlies from 1980-1983 and was recognized as the Field Athlete of the Year for her team in 1980-1981.
Lisa states, "The best part of the Games is the camaraderie that the women throwers have! We only get to see each other once a year, so it's like a reunion for us. It's also been fun to see my former athletes that I coached in the past compete, especially my daughter!"
Male Athlete of the Year: Dr. Gregory Dorow has also been competing in the Big Sky State Games for 34 years, since 1986, the inception of the Games. His passion, aside from practicing dentistry, has always been cycling. Since 2002, Dorow has accumulated 33 Gold and 4 Bronze medals. His daughter Natalie stated, "He has been cycling as long as I can remember."
Dr. Dorow and his wife integrated cycling in their lives as a way to stay healthy, relevant with athletics, and for their mental health. Dorow is a competitor but also exhibits sportsmanship and likes to see others excel in cycling. His great attitude and effort is evident in his participation in the 2019 Big Sky State Games. Not only did he celebrate his 70th birthday in May, but he also had two corrective wrist surgeries from injuries sustained during an April bike accident. He was able to get back on his bike in mid-June and when asked if he was going to compete in the 2019 Big Sky State Games, he stated "I can't miss this one, because I've never missed one." Greg entered both the Cycling Time Trial and the 25-mile Cycling Road Race capturing Gold in both events in his age division.
In addition to competing in BSSG Time Trial and Road Race events, Dr. Dorow often competed in BSSG Mountain Bike events and was an avid participant in the Peaks to Prairie Adventure Race. In 2018, the last year Peaks was held, Greg and his son-in-law, Jared Dickerson, placed 2nd Overall. Dr. Dorow enjoys cycling and cherishes his cycling medals. He has all of his medals hanging in his workout room, each one etched with his finishing times.
Dr. Dorow is a testament to living a healthy lifestyle and encourages his patients to take up cycling for exercise.
Youth Athlete of the Year: Peter Thompson began swimming at a young age with the Billings Aquatic Club Stingrays which helped him gain the momentum needed to achieve all his accomplishments. Peter's first involvement in the Big Sky State Games wasn't Swimming, but the 5k Road Race where he was always an age group medalist. He later branched out to the team Triathlon event with his mother and then his signature sport of Swimming. He has been involved in the Big Sky State Games for over 8 years but in the last 5 years, Peter has earned 14 State Games medals and in 2019 was the overall winner of the Open Water Swim mile.
Peter recently qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the 1500 Free at the Long Course Junior National Championships in Palo Alto, CA. He dropped 24 seconds from his best time, to a (15:35). The swim time breaks the Montana Open State Record in the mile; he is the fastest male swimmer EVER in Montana in the mile. It also ranks 46th All Time in the USA Swimming 15-16 Age Group.
As a sophomore in high school, he competed at the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships and raced himself into earning a spot on the USA Swimming National Junior Team for Team USA. This year he also competed at USA Swimming Junior National Championships, placing 6th in the nation in the 1650 Yard Freestyle.
Peter holds seven Montana State Records as the fastest swimmer ever in the 15-16 Age Group for multiple events. He is one of the top 20 Swimming recruits in the nation for his sophomore class this year. Peter currently holds 13 Billings Aquatic Club Team Records in multiple age groups 13-14 & 15-16 (his current age group).
Team of the Year: The Wildwood Cloggers team wasn't always a competitive dance team. In the beginning years, the team was mostly a performance team showcasing their talents locally. The Wildwood Cloggers entered the inaugural Big Sky State Games Dance Competition in 2003. Coach LaShawn Bernhardt recalls those earlier years dancing in the hot July months in facilities without air conditioning. But even without the AC, the Wildwood Cloggers kept returning year after year! The Wildwood Cloggers foundation of participation is work hard, be respectful, and always give your 110% (even if that looks different than the dancer next to you), and work to better yourself and your team. The goal of WWC isn't to create professional cloggers, but to create productive, responsible and respectful members of society. In addition to their numerous BSSG medals, the Senior Team was awarded A Capella Team MVP at the 2019 America On Stage competition held in Utah. The Senior Team earned the Overall Grand Champion Amateur Team at the 2018 USA National Clogging Championships held at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, and received three (3) first place, four (4) second place, and one (1) third place finish. The Junior Team earned one (1) second place and two (2) third place finishes.
Volunteers of the Year: The 2019 Osborne Volunteers of the Year are Doug Asleson, Erl Barsness, Jane Leuthold and State Games family members. The award is named after Tom Osborne and his family. Tom was the Big Sky State Games founder and Executive Director from 1986-1996. It was the vision and volunteer spirit of the Osborne Family that initiated and sustained the early years of the Big Sky State Games. The Osborne Volunteer of the Year award provides the opportunity to reward volunteers who follow through with that same spirit of service, commitment, and enthusiasm for the Big Sky State Games.
Asleson has served as the the Big Sky State Games Billiards Commissioner for the last 17 years. He is a great promoter and planner of State Games Billiards. Doug is the founder of the Billings BCA Pool League, where he has served as President and League Operator for over 20 years. Doug is generous with his time. He volunteers and promotes Billiards year round. Doug and his wife Linda are passionate about their sport, both compete at the local, State and National level.
Barsness has been an integral part of the Big Sky State Games Opening Ceremonies for over 30 years. Barsness has volunteered his broadcasting talents annually, serving as the Opening Ceremonies Announcer. He first became involved in the Games while working for Major Sponsor Kampgrounds of America.
When Erl committed to the announcing his wife Ann became part of the package. Their role in introducing finishers of the 5k, prior to the advent of chip timing, was very hectic and appreciated for many years.
Erl continues to dabble in broadcasting on the Northern Broadcasting Network with his program the "Shadow of the Rockies". His broadcast career dates back to 1960 and included several radio and television stations in Missoula, Helena, and Billings. He first joined the Northern Sports Network in 1976 following a stint as Sports Director and later News Director for KULR Television. From 1976 to 1981 Erl produced the network's popular radio program "The Outdoorsman", heard on many stations across Montana and Wyoming, and later Erl anchored State News for the Northern News Network.
Leuthold has been the Big Sky State Games Swimming Commissioner for six years. She is a supporter of Montana Swimming and an active volunteer for the Billings Aquatic Club (BAC). Jane's son Jack has been a competitive swimmer with the BAC for many years.
Jane's role as Commissioner continued even when Jack was playing baseball and not swimming during the State Games time frame. An out of town venue change at the 2019 Swimming competition didn't deter Leuthold from volunteering as the State Games Swimming Commissioner once again. Jane's efforts at the most recent Big Sky State Games swim meet epitomizes her flexibility, versatility and the value she brings to the Games. She transported the swimming equipment including t-shirts and medals to Helena for the State Games Swimming event.
Jane volunteers for many organizations in the community including the Backpack Meals Program, her church, and she serves on the board of Young Families.