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The Stormont Vail Athlete of the Year Award


Stormont Vail Athlete of the Year nominations can be made by any person attending or participating in the Sunflower State Games. The nominee must be an athlete participating in the current edition of the Games. The winners, one male and one female will be announced in August. Potential recipients for this award must show outstanding achievement and good sportsmanship both on and off the field of play by embodying what the Sunflower State Games represent, living a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports.


Click here to nominate an Athlete of the Year candiate online

Click here to print an Athlete of the Year Nomination form for mail-in submission


2017 Stormont Vail Female Athlete of the Year: Kjrsten Abel Ruch, Lawrence, 41

Adventure Racing and Orienteering

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Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2017 Orienteering: 1st Place - Long Course Team
  • 2017 Adventure Race: 2nd Place - 2 Person Co-Ed
  • 2016 Orienteering: 1st Place - Long Course Female 21-60
  • 2016 Adventure Race: 3rd Place - 2 Person Co-Ed
  • 2015 Orienteering: 2nd Place - Long Course Female 21-60
  • 2015 Adventure Race: 2nd Place - 2 Person Co-Ed
  • 2014 Adventure Race: 1st Place - 3 Person Female
  • 2013 Adventure Race: 2nd Place - 2 Person Co-Ed
  • 2012 Adventure Race: 1st Place - 2 Person Co-Ed

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

One of the biggest reasons I participate is to spend time with my husband doing something we both enjoy that tests us both mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have played sports my entire life but my husband only played a little bit in elementary up through high school. I some how convinced him to participate in an adventure race before he ever ran a 5K. Now he runs circles around me when we compete in 5K's, but we still compete as a team in adventure racing. The events we participate in have slowly grown into a community of friends over the years. I put the games on my calendar as soon as they are posted to make sure I schedule around them! The games are a chance for me to get away from the chaos of everyday life and be in nature, with others who enjoy the same thing!

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

The friendliness of all of the competitors and the ability to get to know them after each event, even though sometimes if might just be a names. I have become friends with many of the participants and enjoy seeing them at other events throughout the state. Also, I enjoy visiting different parts of Kansas by competing in the games. Many of the locations I have continued to visit after being introduced to them through the Sunflower State Games.

Why is SSG important to Kansas Athletes?

The games help to highlight the communities in Kansas and the wonderful individuals who live here. “Everyday” individuals who are able to participate in an activity that they love (and many times excel at) with others who love the same thing! It showcases the talent we have in Kansas that could be right next door or in your backyard.

Accomplishments outside of SSG?

  • 2017 YWCA of Northeast Kansas Empowered Leader Award Winner
  • 1st Place in Athena Division - Heritage Park Duathlon - May 9, 2015
  • 3rd Place in Athena Division - Marion Arts Festival 5K - May 18, 2013
  • 2nd Place in Age Division - KS Half Marathon & 5K - 2013 -April 21, 2013
  • 1st Place in Age Division - StopGap 5K May 26, 2012
  • 3rd Place in Athena Division - Marion Arts Festival 5K May 12, 2012
  • 3rd Place in Age Division - Walk A Mile In Her Shoes 5K - May 6, 2011
  • 2nd Place in 2 Person Co-ed Division - Break-up Adventure Race, Short Course - March 25, 2017
  • 1st Place in Long Course - Frosty Forty- Fort Leavenworth - December 3, 2016
  • 3rd Place in 2 Person Co-ed Division - Olmitz Miner Adventure Race -May 30, 2015
  • 1st Place in 2 Person Co-Ed Division - Thumper Adventure Race - March 29, 2014
  • 2nd Place Overall – 1st Place in 2 Person Co-Ed Division - Thumper Adventure Race - March 9, 2013
  • 2nd Place in 2 Person Co-Ed Division - Thumper Adventure Race March 10, 2012
  • Team Handball: Gold Medal Team for San Antonio Olympic Festival, 1993
  • Team Handball: USA Developmental Team, Appearance in int. play against Peru, July 1997    
  • Varsity Soccer: Truman State University Bulldogs, 1994-1997
  • Club Rugby: Truman State University Bullets, 1997-1999
  • Club Rugby: Kansas City Jazz, 1999-2008
  • Club Rugby: Kansas Jayhawks, 2008-2016
  • Club Rugby: Kansas Bison, 2016-Present
  • Representative Rugby: Western Rugby Union Senior 15’s All-Stars, 1998-2007, 2010-2011
  • Representative Rugby: USA 15’s Senior Developmental, 2000-2004, 1 cap versus Canada
  • Representative Rugby: USA “A”, 2002-2004, 1 cap versus Canada
  • Coach, Kansas Women’s Rugby Football Club, 2016-Present
  • Coach, University of Kansas Women’s Rugby Club, 2008-Present
  • Coach, Heart of America U-23 All-Stars, 2010-2013
  • Coach, Heart of America Senior All-Stars, 2006-2010
  • Coach for Kansas City Jazz, 2003-2008
  • Player/Coach for Kansas City Jazz, 2001-2003
  • Guest Coach, Heart of America Clinic 2005-2006
  • Assistant Coach, Heart of America Clinic, 2001-2004
  • USA Rugby Coaching Accreditation Program – Level 200
  • IRB Coach Educator – 2007-2010
  • Rugby Touch Judge/Assistant Referee - December 2006
  • Rugby Certified Referee - January 2010
  • President, Mid America Rugby Football Union – September 2013-Present
  • USA Rugby Congress Member – July 2013 – Present
  • USA Rugby Club Strategic Committee – January 2017-Present
  • USA Rugby Club Governance Committee- February 2017- Present
  • USA Rugby National Club Competitions Committee – January 2013- Present
  • President, Mid America Rugby Union – September 2013- Present
  • President, Heart of America Rugby Football Union – December 2009-Present
  • Member, Frontier Region Rugby Competition Committee– January 2013-Present
  • Chair, Frontier Region Rugby Competition Committee – May 2015- Present
  • Vice President, Heart of America Rugby Football Union – December 2006-December 2009
  • Development Committee, Mid America Rugby Union – September 2012-August 2014
  • Director, Rugby Kansas- December 2012 – August 2015
  • Member, USA Rugby Women’s Ad Hoc Committee- September 2012-August 2014
  • President, Kansas City Jazz- 2005-2008
  • USA Rugby Certified Referee - December 2006-Present

Tell Us About Yourself

  • Family: Husband and 2 chickens, 3 sisters, 1 brother, 1 niece, 6 nephews, mother and father.
  • Education: Baker University – Overland Park, KS – August 2009-May 2011 Master in Liberal Arts - Emphasis in Management and Leadership. Truman State University - Kirksville, Missouri - September 1994 - July 1999. Bachelor of Science – Exercise Science; Emphasis Leisure Management
  • Career: Program Director of Healthy Lifestyles for the YWCA of Northeast Kansas since July 2015, Previous - 13 years with Douglas County Extension as 4-H Program Coordinator.
  • Hobbies: Traveling, Rugby, Fiber Arts (knitting, crocheting, basket weaving), spending time with family, enjoying the outdoors, teaching others, and reading.
  • President of the Topeka Optimist Club
  • President of the Mid-America Rugby Football Union
  • Member of USA Rugby Congress
  • Member of the USA Rugby Club Strategic Committee
  • Member of the USA Rugby Club Competitions Committee
  • Member of USA Rugby Club Governance Committee
  • Chair of Frontier Rugby Competitions Committee
  • Coach of the Kansas Women’s Rugby Football Club (division two senior women)
  • Coach of the Kansas Jayhawks Women’s Rugby Football Club (division two college women)
  • Club Leader for Douglas County 4-H Cloverbuds
  • Secretary of Kansas Association of 4-H Volunteers
  • Secretary for MOVE (Managers of Volunteer Engagement)
  • Volunteer for local running events
  • Co-Organizer for Lawrence Adventure Group

2017 Stormont Vail Male Athlete of the Year: Chuck Remboldt, Perry, Age 52

Mountain Biking


JDC 2017 09 26 0173


Sunflower State Games Sports and Accomplishments:

  • 2017 Mountain Biking: 1st Place -  Cat 2 (50+)
  • 2016 Mountain Biking: 1st Place -  Cat 2 (50+)
  • 2015 Mountain Biking: 1st Place -  Cat 2 (50+)
  • 2014 Mountain Biking: 1st Place -  Cat 2 (40-49)
  • 2013 Mountain Biking: 1st Place -  Cat 2 (40-49)

Why do you participate in the Sunflower State Games:

The Sunflower State Games are a fantastic way to get people motivated to “get moving”.  Many people (myself included), struggle with the motivation to constantly work out and start, or stay, committed to a regular schedule of fitness.  The Sunflower State Games provide a goal for individuals to stay committed to working out regularly.  For me, these games and other competitions like them are a huge driving force to stay heathy and active.

What pleases you most about competing in SSG?

The camaraderie among the participants gives me great joy.  It is always fun to hang out before and after events, to socialize, and to cheer on others who are competing.  The level of competition is high enough to be interesting and fun, but avoids the super high end stress associated with some sports.  The atmosphere is festive and inviting.

Why is SSG important to Kansas Athletes?

The games bring recognition to its participants and the communities where they live. This can be translated to so many positive qualities that we should all encourage and support. It brings people together in a healthy and productive way.  Creates and strengthens friendships and community ties among a large group.

Accomplishments outside of SSG?

  • I compete in many cycling events throughout the midwest. Cyclocross, Gravel, and Mountain Bike Racing; most notably a 4 time finisher of the “Dirty Kanza 200” event out of Emporia Kansas, and I have held 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place positions in the USA Cycling Category 2 State Mountain Bike Championships over various years.
  • I am the Regional Coordinator (Region 7) for the US Military Endurance Sports (USMES) team. (note: "The US Military Endurance Sports is not an official activity of the US Government, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Homeland Security. Product endorsement by the team, its riders, staff, or its representatives does not constitute product endorsement by the US Government. More information is available at") The USMES team is a non-profit organization consisting of Active Duty and Veteran military individuals from all athletic levels of who hold a common goal of promoting physical fitness and wellness. We have many adaptive and wounded warrior programs, beginner programs, coaching, as well as Olympic level athletes.  We specifically target cycling, running, triathlon, and adventure racing.  
  • Earlier this year I ran and finished my first marathon (Boston “Shadow”) while deployed to the Middle East.

Tell Us About Yourself:

  • Education: I attended primary and high school in Topeka (Topeka West), attended college at The University of Kansas, and the University of Central Missouri, with a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Technology.  I also have an Associates of Science in Aircraft Maintenance Technology, from the Community College of the Air Force.
  • Career: I have been in the aviation field for many years.  I have worked at the local Lawrence and Topeka airports as an aircraft mechanic and pilot, also owned an aviation business (Jayhawk Aviation) for several years prior to moving to the Kansas Air National Guard as a full time military member where I currently serve.  My primarily military position is a KC-135 air refueling pilot, but have held many positions including various Squadron and Group Command Positions both in the State of Kansas and while deployed to the Middle East and the Pacific. (Previous to my full time military position I was a part time traditional guardsmen with the National Guard, 33+ years total)
  • Hobbies: I enjoy various outdoor activities: hiking, camping, golf, as well as snow skiing and water sports.  I particularly like to travel and visit history and heritage sites.  Visiting all of the National Parks is a longtime goal as well as accomplishing as many of the national trails as possible (Example: Appellation Trail, Colorado Trail, etc).
  • Community Involvement: I am active in various cycling groups; Lawrence Mountain Bike Club, Lawrence Bike Club, and attend group rides and community activities (helmet give-a-ways, trail clean-up, fundraisers) with these groups. I also have served on various community boards including the Rural Water Board of Directors, Boy Scouts, and Venture Scouts. Member of the Kansas National Guard.
  • Family: I am married with 3 children, 2 boys and a daughter.

Past Female Athletes of the Year

2016 - Kailey Ward, Topeka
2015 - Connie Carpenter, Leavenworth
2014 - Maria Seematter, Marysville
2013 - Gavyn Yetter, Topeka
2012 - Diane Werner, Topeka
2011 - Bailey Atkinson, Topeka
2010 - Nikki Barrett, Waverly
2009 - Laurie Koehn, Hesston
2008 - Joyce Baker, Topeka
2007 - Alice Lackey, Seneca
2006 - Susan Miller, Topeka
2005 - Gay Bauersfeld, Topeka
2004 - Joanie Starks, Lawrence
2003 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
2002 - Melissa Titel, Iola
2001 - Lindsey Carter, Parsons
2000 - Jana Sandall, Goddard
1999 - Emily Bloss, Emporia
1998 - Pam Miller, Valley Falls
1997 - Doris Elliot Watson, Bonner Springs
1996 - Terra Upham, Chapman
1995 - Keely Malone, Lawrence
1994 - Lavina Haefele, Lawrence

Past Male Athletes of the Year

2016 - TJ Wade, Eskridge
2015 - Kyle Lewis, Topeka
2014 - Jacob Bull, Berryton
2013 - Erich Singer, Topeka
2012 - Michael Rose, Topeka
2011 - Travis Conley, Mission
2010 - Justin Garrard, Ottawa
2009 - Cory Kowitz, South Hutchinson
2008 - Matt Brungardt, Topeka
2007 - Kory Cool - Manhattan
2006 - Ian Grover, Topeka
2005 - Larry Law, Auburn
2004 - Maure Weigel, Salina
2003 - Bill Bunten, Topeka
2002 - Bob Lida, Wichita
2001 - Dean Sheets, Linwood
2000 - David Johnston, Lawrence
1999 - Nathaneal Wheatley, Cherryvale
1998 - Tim Schumacher, Hays
1997 - Dick Wilson, Lawrence
1996 - Kelly Green, Mayetta
1995 - Jim Ratzlaff, Winfield
1994 - Jack Haefele, Lawrence

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