Big Sky Conference: Top 10 Male Athletes in Last 12 Years


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The Big Sky Conference has produced some incredible talent over the past 12 years. Take a look and see who made the list! Don’t agree with the list? Let me know in the comments who you think should be on it!

1. DAMIAN LILLARD, Weber State.

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Lillard averaged 24.5 points his junior year at Weber, finishing the year as the 2nd leading scorer in the Nation. He was drafted as the 6th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and won the NBA rookie of the year award during the 2012-2013 season. Although his talent in the realm of basketball is highly recognized, he is also quite the talented rapper and lyracist. Lillard created a #4barFriday community on Instagram, where others display their 4bar talent.

2. LOPEZ LOMONG, Northern Arizona.

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Lomong ran track at the University of Northern Arizona, winning the NCAA 1500 meter outdoor championship and the 3000 meter indoor championship in 2007. He has gone on to be very successful in track, qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 1500 meters. He was also chosen by the team to be the USA flag bearer for the 2008 Olympics.

3. JARED ALLEN, Idaho State.

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Allen was a complete stud for Idaho State, winning the Buck Buchanan Award in 2003. He became an incredible player in the NFL as well, where he was drafting by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 4th round of the 2004 NFL draft. A 5 time Pro Bowl and 4 time All-Pro selection with a career total of 133.5 sacks, Allen has done quite well for himself, spending the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

4. MARC MARIANI, University of Montana.

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Mariani was a walk on with the University of Montana in 2005. He now holds University of Montana records in career receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and career all-purpose yards. Mariani was taken in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and in 2011 he was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl as a return specialist. Mariani started his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans, and is now a part of the Chicago Bears Organization.

5. RODNEY STUCKEY, Eastern Washington University.

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Stuckey was an incredible basketball player for Eastern Washington, being ranked 7th in the Nation in scoring during his sophomore season with 24.6 points per game. He was drafted 15th overall in the 2007 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Stuckey now plays for the Indiana Pacers, scoring over 12 points per game.

6. TRUMAINE JOHNSON, University of Montana.

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Johnson played cornerback for the University of Montana, and was one of the top NFL prospects for that position. He was drafted 65th overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the St. Louis Rams. He saw significant playing time during the 2013 season, starting 12 of the 16 regular season games. His work ethic is going to take him beyond what anyone else expects.

7. JULIUS THOMAS, Portland State.

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Thomas played both football and basketball for Portland State. His talents took him to NFL in 2011, where he was drafted in the 4th round by the Denver Broncos as a Tight End. In 2013 he caught 12 touchdown passes, the most by any Broncos tight end. He matched that number again in 2014.

8. JORDAN TRIPP, University of Montana.

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Tripp was a 3rd generation Montana Grizzly football player, and had an outstanding career at linebacker for the Griz. The Miami dolphins took him in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL draft. He received minimal playing time during his first season. However, in the next few years I predict that more people than just Montanan’s will know who this guy is. He is going to be good.

9. DENARIUS MCGHEE, Montana State University.

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McGhee played quarterback for MSU, where he became the winningest quarterback in school history. He is currently signed in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I am not quite sure where his football talent will take him, but definitely do not count him out of eventually making it to the NFL.



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Which Big Sky Athlete do you think should have made the list that didn’t? Comment and let me know his name and University, as we may just put him in!


***Agree or Disagree?  Let me know in the comments, or share your love/hate of this list with your friends on social media!

10 Events Every Montanan Should Experience

Montana residents are defined by their unique character and an attitude that is focused on getting the most of life through experiences rather than possessions. When it comes to events that provide a unique experience, Montana has a lot to offer. Montana’s small town populations have always been able to provide a good time and the events they feature do a great job portraying Montana’s character. You may not have heard of some of these events but keep your calenders open as these events listed in chronological order should be at the top of your bucket list if you want to experience the true character of Montana!

1. Virginia City WinterFest – February 16

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If the historic content surrounding Virginia City is not enough incentive for an interesting and educational trip to southwest Montana, Winterfest events include a very unique broomball tournament, a two-man log-sawing contest, kids sledding, snowmobiling activities and any other exciting events the wonderful people of this town can think of (2014 featured dog wheel barrel races, fire hose rolling competitions, and of course drinking).

2. Miles City Bucking Horse Sale- May 14-17


The Miles City Bucking Horse Sale is a major auction of rodeo stock held the third weekend every May in Miles City. This event attracts rodeo stock contractors from the United States and Canada who are looking for saddle bronc, bareback bronc and bucking bull prospects. The rodeo culture that accompanies this event makes it the premier social event for the community. Known as a Cowboy Mardi Gras this weekend’s events include a parade, a concert, a horse racing meet, a bull riding rodeo and a number of other social activities. Although this may be the only time eastern Montana makes this list, The Miles City Bucking Horse Sale proves eastern Montana still has an exciting Montana experience to offer.

3. Headwaters Country Jam: Bridge near Three Forks, MT – June 25-27

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Headwaters Country Jam was created to bring live country music in a festival atmosphere to Montana and the Northwest. The festival is held at the venue known as The Bridge, near Three Forks.  Live music from national and local acts plays all day and into the night. The three-day festival has brought in high caliber stars including Eric Church, Montgomery Gentry, The Charlie Daniels Band, Eli Young Band, Dustin Lynch, Tracy Lawrence, Sammy Kershaw, The Bellamy Brothers, Pat Green, Lonestar, Emerson Drive, John Anderson, Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt and many more. Besides the live music, festival-goers can enjoy horse shoe tournaments, dance contests, karaoke, mechanical bull riding as well as food and merchandise vendors.

4. Fort Benton Summer Celebration – June 26-28

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Montana’s “birthplace” community knows how to celebrate! Selected As Montana’s Event of the Year, Fort Benton’s annual celebration of its heritage has scheduled activities that include a parade, arts and crafts on the Levee,  the Missouri River Traders Market, historical tours, free entertainment, street dance, fishing derby and a fireworks display on the Levee.  There is always plenty of food and fun to be had. With room to camp overnight, take a tour of old Fort Benton and celebrate this upcoming summer.

5. Augusta Rodeo – June 29th

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This is one of the largest one-day rodeos in Montana. The annual Augusta Rodeo features a parade and rodeo. Located under the Rocky Mountain Front, Augusta is in close proximity to the Bob Marshall Wilderness as well as many other recreational areas. Visiting the Augusta rodeo and surrounding areas is a great way to turn a weekend into a beautiful and unforgettable experience!

6. Darby Logger Days – July 17-18











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The Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana comes alive with a timber sports event that makes for an awesome experience for the whole family. Seventeen traditional logging competitions have been scheduled, including axe throwing, pole climbing, log roll and cross-cut sawing. Every year this family-oriented weekend draws thousands of enthusiastic onlookers and expert competitors. Also included are plenty of activities for the little Lumberjacks. Other features of Logger Days include family games, live music and a parade.

7. Bannack days – July 19-20

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Return to the early days in Montana’s history  with a celebration of mining and life in Montana’s first territorial capital. Located at the ghost town of Bannack in southwest Montana, this interactive event allows visitors to take part in a wagon ride, candle making and gold-panning. Along with main street gunfights, old time dancing, pioneer craft demonstrations and lots of music and family fun, this event creates an experience that is hard to be found anywhere else. Bannack Days awakens this old ghost town with life and offers plenty to do and see for the entire family.

8. Evel Knievel days: Butte – July 23-25


No Montanan embodies the wild spirit of Montana more than Evel Knievel. From July 23-25th, Evel’s hometown of Butte will host Evel Knievel Days. The celebration will feature a huge array of exciting events including: a parade, poker run, social, fireworks, live music, dare-devil stunts, vendors and a classic motorcycle & car show. The event  is timed to attract riders on their way to Sturgis and any other visitors/locals of Montana.  Evel Knievel inspired a nation for years with his daredevil stunts. Come feel the excitement in Butte, MT the place where Evel took his first jumps, honed his nerves of steel, and got started in the daredevil business. 

9. Huckleberry Festival: Trout Creek – August 14-16


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Don’t miss the upcoming 36th annual Huckleberry Festival located at Trout Creek, MT. Every year people flock to taste and purchase these magical berries that are native to Montana. Food vendors feature the tasty “purple gold” in huckleberry ice cream cones, on cheesecake, in drinks, and even atop Polish dogs. Scheduled events include entertainment, the Huckeberry Festival Parade, a 5K Fun Run, dancing under the stars, karaoke, Huckleberry Hounds Dog Agility Demonstration, Huckleberry Homesteader Pentathlon, food by community groups, a Children’s Talent Show, The Huckleberry Auction, children’s activities, horseshoe contest, Huckleberry Dessert Contest, and an interfaith worship service on Sunday morning. The Huckleberry Festival has become a place where the community gathers, families reunite, and those who discover its charms come back year after year.

10. Montana’s Biggest Weekend: Dillon, MT – August 30-31

Aptly described as “Montana’s Biggest Weekend”, the Dillon Jaycee Labor Day Rodeo, Concert, and Parade provides an exciting and colorful end to summer. This events rodeo action lures America’s top riders, ropers, and rodeo stock in two days of exhilarating action. Other highlights of the weekend include: 4-H and arts contests, award winning 4-H animals, carnival style rides, food and prize vendors, along with souvenirs and everything you would expect from a spectacular summer fair. To top off the weekend Sunday night’s concert features popular country artists that spectators flock to. Stay one more night and catch the Labor Day Parade the next morning which has also gained an enviable reputation for its colorful display of entries.

11 Realistic Yet Completely Satisfying Spring Break Getaways

Spring break is right around the corner for us college students and have you thought of where your next adventure will be? Here are 11 realistic yet completely satisfying spring break getaways as told by college students just like yourself that have gone, will go or are dying to get to in 2015.

Let’s start with the more obvious choices that students end up going anyway…

1. Lake Havasu, AZ

Lake Havasu, AZWhether you enjoy the beach, paddle boarding or listening to great music Lake Havasu has been named a top attraction among many college students to spend their spring break. -“Nicole Orrantia- University of Montana”

2. Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas, NV

Another popular place to visit is the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas. Here people can go to clubs, lay by the pool or do some over priced shopping. -“Jayden Romero- Montana State University “

3. California

San DiegoSan Francisco, CA

Who could forget going to California? Not us! Expose your sophisticated side in San Francisco or enjoy a boat ride in San Diego. Either way there is no better place to enjoy some sun than in California. -“Bailey Harper- University of Montana & Kelsie McDowell- Boston University “

4. Panama City, FL

Panama City, FL

BEACHES BEACHES AND MORE BEACHES. Can’t get enough of them, right? Try another huge destination to experience music, major night clubs and that beautiful weather in Panama City. “Kyle Tevlin- Union College”

5. Grand Canyon, AZ


If you want to check out the outdoors early put on your hiking shoes and trek around the Grand Canyon. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful scenery and unexpected friendliness of other travelers. -“Heather Donnelly-University of Montana”

Now let’s look at some awesome places you might not think to visit…

6. Lake Chelan, WA

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There is SO much to do in the main cities of Washington but what about the secret lakes in the area such as Lake Chelan? It’s perfect for family trips to camp, boat and jet ski which gives you the feeling of being at beach but without the crowds. “Ally Goodall- Central Washington University” 

7. Wrightsville Beach, NC

Wrightsville Beach, NC

Let’s go East now to another beach, Wrightsville, NC. This town is all about the active lifestyle from fishing, paddle boarding to surfing. They even have the friendliest locals! What could beat that?-“Connor Gustafson- University of Montana”

8. Charelston, SC

charleston, S.C.

Charelston, SC is the place to be to enjoy amazing scenery. Here you can take about a million and a half tourists walking trips, go out to sea for some fishing and even explore the cute downtown atmosphere.
“Ryanne Frazier- SCAD-University for Creative Careers”

9. Fernie, BC

Fernie, BC

Put on your best retro 80’s gear and get ready for the skiing time of your life as you celebrate Hot Dog Day in Fernie, BC with all the other dedicated skiing enthusiasts. All true skiers and snowboarders will be there so make sure not to miss out on this event!-“AJ Frisell- University of Montana”

10. Goldbug Hotsprings, ID

Goldbug Hot Springs, ID

What better way to start spring off with a little camping trip to a non-commercial hot springs like Goldbug, ID? Enjoy the fresh air, a little bit of wilderness and soak up that warm water before the big camping trips start! -“Lindsay Forman- University of Montana”

11. Back Home

Mary Miller, Family

As we are all college students one of the best get away places is making that trip back home to see your mom, dad and bless the siblings of your presence for a delightful week. “-Mary Miller- University of Montana”

If you are a student and want to share your spring break  adventure please send a picture and description to:

10 Ways to Make Kicking Your Own Ass Fun: The Runner’s Edition

“You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things.”
–Ken Kesey

Let’s face it. Interval training sucks; it’s hard to motivate yourself to do speed work, fartleks are just as hard to do as they are to pronounce, and track workouts haven’t gotten any less miserable since you were in high school rocking short shorts.

There is no denying that picking up the pace a bit will elevate your running. Mixing speed work and the occasional ass-kicking into your routine will improve your running form and teach your body to handle a bit of discomfort by running at faster speeds. In the end, these workouts are the ones that will improve your running more than anything else you will do this week.

While this list doesn’t eliminate 100% of the suckiness involved with getting out the door and giving yourself a dose of run-inflicted punishment, it does give you a few tips for making it more enjoyable. With the right combination of these ten tips, you might just have fun out there!

1.Begin With the End in Mind

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is a tough thing to do. Pinpointing exactly why you have decided to wreck yourself will motivate you to get out there and do some damage!

Are you having some trouble identifying your goals? There are a wealth of awesome coaching resources to help you identify reasonable goals such as appropriate distances, times and weekly mileage. The following coaches and athletes offer some of the best resources available on the web to help you identify your end goal and stick to it.

Jeff Galloway
Kara Goucher
Dr. Jack Daniels
Greg Mcmillan

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2.“It’s speed work, I’m supposed to run as hard as I can, right?”  Wrong.

Strive to give yourself a minor beating, not a complete stomping in your speed workouts. Don’t go all out, but try to find a level of discomfort that you can maintain. There are all kinds of really nerdy metrics that you can get into to determine the perfect level of discomfort such as VO2 max, heart rate, and other pace predictors.

I prefer to train a level that I call Awkward Encounter with an Ex. This is a level of exertion that you can tolerate for up to five minutes, but anything beyond that is sheer punishment. No one can feign happiness for an ex for more than five minutes, and you shouldn’t have to endure that level of discomfort in your speed workouts, either. So, find a pace you can tolerate for five minutes, rest for two minutes, and then get back out there and subject yourself to that level of pain repeatedly.

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Puking and passing out from running is not what we are going for, here.

3. Give Yourself Adequate Recovery Time

You can’t subject yourself to the thrashing of a speed workout without being a little forgiving to yourself. Give yourself up to five minutes of rest when running long-distance intervals, as explained in this Runner’s World article.

Poor little guy.

4.Do Your homework – Calculate predicted speeds

The speed workout requires a bit of preparation. While the Awkward Encounter with an Ex level of exertion is a good starting point, you might want to try to plan out this workout and figure out exactly how much you can endure. In the same way that all conversations with an ex aren’t equally awkward, all speed workouts aren’t equally as painful. So, plan out your workouts and calculate the size of spanking you want to give yourself.

Here are some great resources for planning out the pain doses:

Jen Mueller’s Workouts to Increase Speed
Runner’s World Pace Calculators
Runner’s Connect: Ultimate Training Plan to Crush Your PR

5.Train with Friends

You are running in circles around a track, you might as well recruit some of your faster friends to join you for some good old-fashioned punishment. You can admire their superior athleticism as they pull a bit further in front of you on every lap.

Building a community of inspirational runner friends is the secret to staying motivated, as explained in this Active Times article. Friends give you incentives to keep going, and not skip out on that last lap. There is even time to commiserate during the rest intervals as soon as you catch your breath. And, there is nothing like the cool down run with a group of friends when you can bask in the accomplishment that you all endured a solid, self-induced, ass-whooping together.

You bet. Just make sure you get in a few 800 meter intervals on the way.
You bet. Just make sure you get in a few 800 meter intervals on the way.

6. Don’t Skip Speed Workouts

Scientific fact: speed work becomes 4000 times harder to resume after a few skipped workouts. Ok, that number is slightly inflated, only because the perceived pain you feel after taking a few weeks off and then attempting a speed workout cannot be accurately measured or quantified by scientists.

If that isn’t enough fear-based motivation to get you out there, pick up the pace, and make a speed-work schooling part of your regular routine, here are a few tips to from our friends at The Active Times to keep you motivated to run all year round.

Yep. Still Practicing
Yep. Still Practicing.

7. Track your Progress and Embrace your Inner-nerd


Use excel spreadsheets, Iphone Apps, Garmin GPS watches, or whatever nerdy tool you need, but chart your workouts. After a few weeks, you will notice a difference and you could probably even chart it on a graph depending on your level of nerdiness. Speed workouts are only fun because you can quantify your improvements.

Warning: this practice is addicting and leads to annoying run achievement posts on popular social media sites.

Some of our favorite tools to really geek out with include:
Garmin Forerunner 15
Mio Fuse
Microsoft Excel

8.Make it a Game

Face it– you are more motivated by video games with vampires, emojis, and zombies than any inspirational quote anyone could ever tell you.

Here are some of the best apps out there for making your speed workout fun this week:

Zombies, Run! Go out there and spend thirty minutes getting chased by zombies and tell me you aren’t having fun.

Run your brains out.
Run your brains out.

Gym-Pact: Bet on your own success. Hold yourself accountable by giving yourself monetary incentives to work out. Sounds exciting.

9.Use Technology

The internet now is more omnipresent than air, so you should be take advantage of that technology while you are gasping for breath. We particularly like these three apps to keep you going:

Tabata Pro: Interval timers that are easy to set up and speaks to you when it’s time to rest or speed up.

Run Coach: Does all the things we’ve been discussing here, it gives you workout plans, tracks progress and even provides nutritional tips.

TempoRun: This app helps you sort your songs by tempo and then serves up songs that match the exertion level for that day’s run. Let’s categorize “Eye of the Tiger” as an 11, so make sure your play list doesn’t make you turn it up to 11 too often.

10.Remember- This is the Shortest Workout of the Week!

Speed work is short and sweet. The good news: you shouldn’t run for more than four miles at a high exertion level. Doesn’t that fact alone make you want to pick up the pace a bit?!

Parting Inspiration
Parting Inspiration

Growing Up: 21 things I know to be true

Being a 21 year old is hard! You’re not that old, but you’re not that young. Here’s a few things I know so far…

1.) You have to ask for what you want.


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2.) “Time Flies” isn’t just another cliché saying.


My college years have gone by much faster than I ever thought they would (or wanted them to).

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3.) Everyone has their own personal brand of crazy.


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4.) “Networking” is the most necessary of necessary evils.


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5.) Nobody is ever entitled to anything.


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6.) My parents actually knew a thing or two…or three…OR 400 THINGS.


Why do they always have to be right??

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7.) Failure is unavoidable.


Keep trying, you’ll get there.

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8.) Singing “Let it Go” at the top of your lungs is a legitimate form of therapy.


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9.) Asking questions is the quickest way to get your answers.


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10.) Waking up early and going to the gym will never be easy nor enjoyable.


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11.) Ice cream is always a good idea.


You deserve it!

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12.) Self-awareness will take you far.


Having a clear understanding of yourself allows you to identify what improvements could be made and what you are already awesome at.

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13.) Whether around people, or alone in your room, you should dance.


Shake it off!

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14.) Nobody has any of the answers, make that s#!t up.


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15.) Whew, everyone’s family is just as insane as mine.


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16.) Yours or someone else’s compliment can go a long way.


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17.) Everybody needs an editor.


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18.) Hard work isn’t always recognized, but it is absolutely necessary.


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19.) You don’t need to have it all figured out to move forward.


Go for it.

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20.) Always take the stairs.


If it seems easy, you could be doing it wrong.

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And Finally…

21.) Life is too short to pretend you don’t love Taylor Swift.

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