Steven Holcomb, Gene Fullmer, and Utah’s athletes, Olympians and Paralympians honored with a celebration including
special guest Shaun White
Salt Lake City, UT, April 19, 2018 – Eleven of Utah’s most accomplished athletes and coaches for the 2017 calendar year were honored Wednesday evening at the 2018 Governor’s State of Sport Awards, hosted by the Utah Sports Commission and presented by Zions Bank.

"This is one of my favorite nights of the year because I am an avid sports fan," said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. "I’m consistently impressed by the athleticism and dedication to excellence shown by athletes who compete all across the globe and who call Utah home."

The event also paid tribute to two respected Utah athletes: American bobsledder Steven Holcomb and boxer Gene Fullmer, both posthumously honored with a Legends Award. Special recognition was also given to long time Utah Sports Commission board member, David B. Winder.

This year’s event featured the Lewis Feild Bareback Riding Award, a tribute to the late PRCA Hall of Famer Lewis Feild. The award was presented to Tim O’Connell, who was the highest-point bareback winner in Utah’s three main rodeos – the Spanish Fork Fiesta Days Rodeo, the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo and the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo.

The second half of the program celebrated over 50 Utah connected Olympic and Paralympic athletes, past and present, including an intimate conversation with Olympic gold medalist Shaun White. Nearly 100 athletes with Utah ties took part in the recent Games in PyeongChang.

2018 Governor’s State of Sport Awards Winners

Pleasant Grove’s senior Heather Gneiting was named the Gatorade Player of the year in the state of Utah. The 6-foot-4 senior middle blocker recorded 319 kills, 101 blocks and 62 service aces this past season, leading the Pleasant Grove Vikings (26-5) to the Class 6A state final. Heather was chosen 1st team All American and MVP for the West 2017-18 Under Armour All-America game held in Kansas City, MO during the NCAA final 4 games in December. Not only was she named Miss Volleyball by the Deseret News, she was also selected to the national ALL-USA First Team and earned First Team All-American honors from FloVolleyball. Heather will attend Brigham Young University on a full ride Volleyball Scholarship.

Lehi Pioneers Quarterback, Cammon Cooper set nine high school state records including single game passing touchdowns, completions, attempts and yards. He finished his high school career as the all-time leader for passing yards in a season and career touchdowns. Cooper was named as Utah’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player by Salt Lake Tribune and USA Today, and Mr. Football by Deseret News. The Utah First Elite 11 finalist led his team to their first-ever 5A State Championship andsigned with Washington State University.

Three-time All-American, Hannah Flippen became the first player in Pac-12 history to win both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year during the same season. She ranked among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in a number of offensive categories such as 1st in batting average and on-base percentage, 3rd in slugging percentage, 4th in runs batted-in and triples, and 5th in total bases. Flippen was a Finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, finishing her career as Utah’s all-time leader in runs, hits and batting average.

University of Utah’s Matt Gay led the Pac-12 and was fifth in field goal percentage. Gay ranks ninth across all positions and third among kickers in scoring. He set Utah’s single season records with points scored, field goals made and field goals attempted. Matt is the first Utah kicker to make five 50+ yard field goals in a season. Matt Gay became Utah’s first Lou Groza Award winner and consensus All-American in his first NCAA football season. He is first-team All-Pac 12 and won the Vlade Award as the nation’s most accurate kicker.

Alpine Skier Saylor O’Brien was born with Spina Bifida; however, her parents always taught her that there are no limitations, just adaptions. At the age of 4, Saylor began her training with Wasatch Adaptive Sports before moving to the National Ability Center where she learned how to sit-ski. In 2017, not only did Saylor begin competing, she started winning. O’Brien brought home the bronze in her first ever Super-G race in Panorama, Canada early in the season; she followed that up with two more bronze medals and silvers in both slalom andgiant slalom.

Fremont High School Elevate Rider, Caden Halverson loves sports; his favorite is mountain biking, which fuels his competitiveness and pushes him to keep up with the other riders. Diagnosed with autism, Caden has never let that set him back. He strives to excel and physically pushthe boundaries of his disability. Caden participates regularly in the Special Olympics track and field events with the Weber State clubteam. In 2017, he competed in five races with the Fremont Mountain Biking Team, with a personal best of 1hr 23 minutes & 8 seconds at the Round Valley Series in Park City.


Jordan Willis led her team to its second National Championship for the Independent Women’s Football League with 47 tackles, 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. As running back, Jordan had 23 carries for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. She was named the Defensive Player of the year for the Utah Falconz in 2017 and earned MVP in the All-Star game. Jordan has been voted as Captain for the Utah Falconz for the 2018 season.


Donovan Mitchell led all rookies in scoring average in 2017 at 18.2 points per game. He totaled a Jazz rookie-record 41 points against New Orleans on Dec. 1, the first 40-plus point game by a rookie since Blake Griffin in 2010-11. The Greenwich Conn., native was the only rookie to total over 600 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in 2017. The 21-year-old made 76 three-pointers in 35 games played through December, which is tied for the second most by a rookie in their first 35 games played in NBA history. His 636 points through December were the second most by a Jazz rookie in team history.


Jay Hill led Weber State to its best season in school history with a school record of 11 wins and a 7-1 conference record, marking only the fifth time the Wildcats have won the Big Sky Conference. 17 of Hill’s players earned All-Big Sky honors including Defensive Player of the Year Taron Johnson. Weber State won two games in the FCS Playoffs making the quarterfinals for the first time ever. Hill and his team finished the season ranking fifth in the nation, the highest national ranking in school history.


The University of Utah Ski Team placed 1st overall with 541.5 points at the 2017 NCAA National Championship meet, their first title since 2003. This marked Utah’s 11th NCAA title, ranking them third all-time in skiing. Nordic Coach of the Martin Bergstroem’s became the 2017 NCAA National Individual Champion in the Men’s 10km Classic and Men’s 20km Skate, bringing Utah’s Ski Team’s 2017 Championship Podium appearances to 6.


20-year-old rookie, Ethan Nell stepped onto the podium as the youngest competitor amongst 21 of the world’s greatest freeride mountain bikers at the 12th edition of Red Bull Rampage. Nell’s run down Virgin, Utah’s terrain, featured tons of speed, fluidity, landing two flat spins, a backflip, and a suicide-no-hander placing him 3rd with a score of 90.00.

For more information about the Governor’s State of Sport Awards, please visit www.stateofsportawards.com

About Utah Sports Commission
The Utah Sports Commission, a not-for-profit 501c6 business league and Utah Sports Commission Foundation, a not-for-profit 501c3 charitable organization, isgoverned by an all-volunteer Board of Trustees consisting of statewide sports, business, community, and government leaders. The Sports Commission was created to be a catalyst for Utah in its Olympic legacy efforts and to help enhance Utah’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion and development of national and international sports. The Sports Commission works closely with communities, sports entities, and organizations to provide event services ranging from the bid process, on-site logistics, volunteer coordination, sponsorships and promotional opportunities and other related services.For more information, visit www.utahsportscommission.com

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