FRENCHTOWN — Every year, athletes from Montana's smallest towns at the Class C level go toe-to-toe with competitors from the state's larger schools within the cities.
This year, two athletes have done just that in track and field, and they've done so in the shot put, in Noxon's Cade VanVleet and Seeley-Swan's Walker McDonald.
But it's to be expected after how the two finished last season. Last year in Missoula, the duo put on a show at the State C track and field meet as they went back-and-forth in the shot put as the top two placers.
"It was really fun," McDonald said. "It was really back-and-forth. One throw I had him, he had me the next throw, but it really just made us both better throwers overall I think."
McDonald won both the shot put and discus last year for Seeley-Swan, a school in a town of just over 1,500 people.
Coming into this year, the Montana Grizzly track and field commit sits atop Class C in both events once again, and second overall in the entire state regardless of classification, as he's looked to build on the success from his junior year. His best shot put mark is 55 feet, 1/4 inch while his best discus mark is 170 feet, 10 inches.
"There was a lot of pressure behind me," McDonald said. "It's good to have some pressure though. It pushes you and helps push me forward. I've come a long way, I think, since the beginning of this year. I PR'd a couple of weeks ago and hopefully I can do it again next week."
Right there pushing him is VanVleet at almost every meet during the season.
It's a friendly rivalry between the two as they've gotten the best of each other throughout the year, which has in turn, made the other better.
"If I didn't have somebody like him to push me, I don't know how well I'd be doing," VanVleet said. "I know iron sharpens iron and all that but I think the mental game with yourself, it's not enough to push you by yourself, so having somebody throwing with you, throwing about the same distance or further, it definitely helps you find a goal."
"It just makes me want to do better," McDonald added. "I just like having him there with me. He's one of my good friends I'd say."
VanVleet is bound for Montana Tech after this season to compete in track and field. His best shot put mark is 54 feet even this season.
But the small-town pride he carries is another driver to the success he's found heading into the State C track meet later this week. Noxon is a town just over 150 people in northwest Montana.
"We're in the middle of nowhere so being able to represent for Noxon on the state level and be able to throw something pretty good, not extraordinary but pretty good, it feels pretty nice," VanVleet said. "We don't have a whole lot of experience or depth in throwing. We've had a couple of good throwers in the past but it feels good to bring some of that back to Noxon and being able to come out from somewhere like that is something else."