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Shannon Cate

Shannon Cate was twice named the Big Sky Conference MVP during her career at Montana.

OGDEN, Utah -- The Big Sky Conference has named former Billings Central and University of Montana standout Shannon Cate as its greatest female athlete.

The league made the announcement Thursday, wrapping up its “25 greatest” countdown as part of its commemoration of 25 years of sponsoring women’s athletics.

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.

She was twice 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.

Cate starred at Billings Central from 1984-87, winning three Class A state championships. She is the Rams’ all-time leading scorer with 1,802 points, and averaged 18.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for her career. She was named a Kodak All-American her senior year.

Next Thursday the conference will announce its No. 1 men’s athlete and moment on its “50 Greatest” countdown. The Big Sky Conference is also celebrating its 50th year of sponsoring men’s athletics.

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