(Editor's note: BSSG release)
BILLINGS - The Big Sky State Games has named Linda Asleson of Billings and Micah Snodgrass of Joliet its 2021 Athletes of the Year. Youth Athlete of the Year goes to Paige Gershmel of Billings while softball's “406 Warriors” make up Team of the Year.
The awards are designed to recognize individuals who best personify the ideals of the State Games movement: participation, sportsmanship, effort, and positive attitude.
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, she is often referred to as “the best women billiard player in Montana.” Asleson 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). Additionally, she has won numerous pool tournaments in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, North Dakota, including state and national titles.
Following are Asleson’s National and State Championships:
· 9 times national singles champion
· 2 times national runner up
· 2 times national team champion
· 1 time national runner up doubles
· 12 times Montana State 8 ball singles champion
Asleson is very humble as most people are unaware of her accomplishments in Billiards. She currently splits her time in Billings and winters in Arizona. Competing in Billiards was difficult in 2020 as there were very few tournaments that took place. She embraces the State Games movement and looks forward to competing in Big Sky State Games every year.
Snodgrass has been participating in the Games since 1996. In that time he has participated in Track & Field, 5K Road Race, and Cycling (12 mile, 20 mile, 40 mile, time trial) and Swimming. He has accumulated 180 Big Sky State Games medals (97 Gold, 54 Silver, 29 Bronze).
Snodgrass enjoys competing and the State Games give him a reason to stay in shape. Running has helped him stay healthy as he ages. Since the age of 14, Snodgrass has been running, long distances or just for fun.
Snodgrass 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 Snodgrass to three State Games of America: St. Louis in 1999 (one Silver and one Gold), Colorado Springs in 2005 (one Silver and one Gold), and 2013 in Hershey, PA (two Silvers). Since the 1970s, he has run five marathons and hundreds of running events in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and Montana.
Snodgrass loves to push himself to the limit. In 2021, he participated in the Pentathlon on Saturday and then the Cycling Time Trial in the evening. Sunday consisted of three relays, 100m, 5,000m walk, and 5,000m run. He pursues athletics with all his energy. Snodgrass 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.
Gershmel is from Billings and has been competing in Olympic Weightlifting at the Big Sky State Games for five years, starting 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.
Gershmel’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, Gershmel 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 Gershmel has solidified a position on the junior varsity team.
Last year Gershmel 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.
Gershmel 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 Warriors softball started as a “teacher league” consisting of colleagues. Team membership has evolved over the years to comprise a diverse group of women.
The 406 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 and only the second year competing in the Big Sky State Games tournament.
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
The Big Sky State Games 2021 Osborne Volunteers of the Year are Kyle Schlichenmayer, Roz Robinson, Melody Bilden, and Dave Omen.
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.
Schlichenmayer has served as the Big Sky State Games Basketball Commissioner for the last seven years. In his younger years, he was an avid basketball player and coach. He enjoys volunteering for the Big Sky State Games because the State Games was something he always looked forward to as a young player. Kyle is a Commercial Real Estate Specialist for Coldwell Banker Commercial CBS.
Robinson has been volunteering as the Equestrian Pony Show Commissioner for the past five years and a volunteer before becoming the commissioner. Roz grew up around horses and volunteered for 20 years as a 4H Leader. She spent many years raising miniature horses that she incorporated into 4H for kids to show at county fairs and local mini shows. Fellow Equestrian Commissioner, Melody Bilden, stated “she is very organized and passionate about the pony show. She sincerely enjoys watching people raise, show and appreciate the qualities of mini horses.”
Bilden has been Equestrian Horse Show Commissioner for eleven years. Melody grew up on a horse ranch in Colorado. She started showing horses and entering rodeos by the age of 10. She looks forward to helping gather horse people from all breeds to enjoy a full day of fun and great competition. Equestrian Pony Show Commissioner, Roz Robinson stated, “she is famous for taking the time to advise and help the entrants with any problems they have.” In addition to her role with BSSG, Melody is an advisor for the miniature horse show for the fair along with managing the Draft Horse Expo.
Omen stated “the Yellowstone Rimrunners taught me to run in one event and help in another.”
So with that counsel, Dave began volunteering for the Big Sky State Games in 1990 and has volunteered in 31 of the past 32 State Games. In addition to volunteering, he has competed in 31 State Games! Dave can be found assisting the Soaked Fun Run and with Road Race events. Dave also volunteers for many other events including the Women’s Run.