Last Tuesday, the Big Sky State Games announced the 2022 Athletes of the Year. The award recognizes athletes that encompass state game values: sportsmanship, participation, positive attitude, and effort. 

The Female Athlete of the Year is Klaire Kovatch from Seely Swan, Montana, who has competed in Track and Field at the Big Sky State Games for three years. Kovatch has earned ten medals and broke two records since competing in the state games. In 2020, she received gold in discus and bronze in javelin. She also broke the discus record for the 16-18 age group. In 2021, Klaire received gold medals for javelin, discus, and silver in shotput. She was named the Montana Gatorade Girls Track & Field Player of the Year for 2022.

For the 2022 Big Sky State Games, Kovatch won gold in hammer throw, silver in javelin, and bronze in shotput. She also broke the discus record for the 19-29 age group with a 170’07” throw. Klaire currently attends Colorado State University, where she competes in Track & Field.

Dallas Redekopp from Lolo, Montana, was named the Male Athlete of the Year who has competed in table tennis at the Big Sky State Games for the past 30 years. In that time, he accumulated 64 medals: 29 gold, 16 silver, and 18 bronze. Redekopp has competed in over 40 table tennis tournaments that have been nationally recognized since 1994. He was part of the US Open, US Nationals, and the 2017 World Veterans Championship. In the 2022 Big Sky State Games, Redekopp received two medals in table tennis; gold for the 70+ Division and bronze for the Open A Division.

“I believe Salls sees Table Tennis as a true-life long activity sport for anyone to enjoy and receive the health benefits for many years,” said Art Fust, Table Tennis Commissioner. 

The Youth Athlete of the Year is Tucker Rice from Billings, Montana, who has competed in the games for seven years. He competed in Open Water Swimming and earned six gold medals. Rice also earned gold for Youth Triathlon in 2017 and won bronze for Team Triathlon in 2018. In 2022, he was the overall champion in the 3k and 400m divisions. Rice was also a 2022 recipient of the Character Counts! Scholarship.

Congratulations to all athletes that competed this year and to the athletes of the year who showed the meaning behind the state games.