OGDEN, Utah — The Big Sky Conference reached the conclusion of its countdown of the “25 Greatest” female athletes and moments on Thursday.
Former University of Montana women’s basketball player Shannon Cate, who now goes by her married name Shannon Schweyen, was selected as the No. 1 athlete by a panel of former and current coaches, administrators and media members.
Cate, who is currently an assistant coach for the Montana women’s basketball program, competed for the Lady Griz from 1988-89 through 1991-92. She scored 2,172 career points, more than any men’s or women’s player in league history at the time.
Twice the Billings, Mont., native was named the Big Sky MVP, and she is the only player in league history to earn First Team All-America honors. Cate’s Lady Griz teams compiled a 103-18 record, winning three Big Sky regular-season titles. She was also a four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection.
The voting panel selected Stacy Dragila’s 2000 Olympic gold medal in the pole vault, and her overall contributions to the sport as the No. 1 moment. Dragila competed in the heptathlon for Idaho State from 1993-95. While at Idaho State, coach Dave Nielsen introduced her to the pole vault.
Dragila, from Auburn, Calif., shined at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, becoming the first-ever gold medalist in the sport. She won 18 total United States championships, and three World Championships not including her gold medal.
“I believe our committee made two excellent choices in Shannon Cate and Stacy Dragila,’’ said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “Stacy was a pioneer in her sport, and she became the best in the world. Shannon was not only the best basketball player in the Big Sky, but was considered among the very best in the nation. The entire Big Sky Conference congratulates Shannon and Stacy on topping our lists.’’
On Thursday, June 19, the Big Sky Conference will release its No. 1 men’s athlete and moment on its “50 Greatest” countdown.
The Big Sky Conference is celebrating its 50th year, and its 25th season of sponsoring women’s athletics.
— Big Sky Conference