Ordinarily, extraordinary

By Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Casey Gunlikson poses with a basketball, football and his state track and field medals in his backyard. Gunlikson was a three-sport athlete this year (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer).


Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series featuring the male and female athletes of the year for Sweet Grass County sports. Casey Gunlikson has been nominated for the male athlete of the year, while Madilyn Emter has been nominated as the female athlete of the year. For her feature, pick up a copy of the Pioneer next week.

Casey Gunlikson is your ordinary, extraordinary athlete.

He’s a humble man for only finishing his junior year of high school, and seemingly has a stronger grasp than most his age on the what’s important in life, and finds the balance between fun and competition.

He doesn’t have a cornerstone moment where he flipped a switch and became an ultra-athletic competitor he is today, but rather plethora of stepping stones that have been the brick and mortar of his career. 

Sitting at his kitchen table, next to mom and track and field coach alike, Paula Berry, Gunlikson gives an affirmative smirk with each answer to the reporter digging through his memory, searching for athletic accomplishments and defining moments. Each answer is truthful and confident; there was a memory for everything. 

“Sure, I got one,” Gunlikson said, reminiscing of a standout moment in his sporting life. “My dad always tells me this one. I had six goals once, and the score was 5-1. I scored on my own goal. I kicked it off a kid’s face and it came right back. I do remember that one.”

He’s always been highly competitive; expecting the best of himself and his teammates. But his athleticism isn’t the only thing that sets him apart from the competition. His demeanor and attitude toward sports — winning and losing — makes him a standout athlete. 

“That’s just an individual characteristic,” Berry said. “As a parent and in sports, you want them to be a good winner and a good loser.”

Gunlikson chimed in quick with, “I was a terrible loser. Maybe, because I know what it feels like to lose, I shouldn’t rub it in.”

It’s not that he’s become accustomed to losing or that he doesn’t expect to win every time he steps on the field, court or track — because he does. He’s had a foundational understanding of losing, simply because it happened to him in the rawest of ways. 

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