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IT'S A SISTER THING IN FORT BENTON

Teammates on the hardwood, different sports in the spring, competitive with each other, but McKenzie and Megan Clark will always be family

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Sisters McKenzie, left, and Megan Clark have meant a lot to Fort Benton athletics the last four years, and, they would have shined in track and tennis this spring. But, more than their prowess in Fort Benton sports, they've done what sisters normally do, and that's stick together, support each other and help each other grow.

FORT BENTON - There have been plenty of family tie sports stories across the Hi-Line over the years, but there are some bonds that change and evolve over time in a different way, especially when it comes to the bonds that siblings share in the sports world. Most recently, the Hi-Line and the District 9C have seen a pair of sisters that have made some noise in their shared senior seasons.

Fort Benton has had a lot of talent in girls sports and in the 2019-2020 season, the Longhorns saw sisters McKenzie and Megan Clark continue to push their way to the top, all the while helping each other. There has been a lot for the two sisters to be proud of and over the years, the Clark sisters have come a long way since they were first in high school.

McKenzie Clark knows that she and her sister have been bound to growth since their freshman year, including the common sibling rivalry.

"I think we've always kind of butted heads a little but, especially team sports," McKenzie Clark said. "We always seem to have a wavelength between us that we can always tell, like in basketball, I can know where she is at all times, and (we) make a good pass to each other all the time. It's been pretty fun. We don't really have spring sports together, but basketball is great for both of us to be in together."

Megan Clark said she definitely feels the growth from the rivalry she shared with her sister.

"With us being sisters and such, there's competition between us, which is always really good," Megan Clark said. "We're always competing against each other to make our games better. I think that's honestly helped us a lot."

Back in the winter sports season, McKenzie and Megan Clark became quite the duo on the court for the Fort Benton girls basketball team. The sisters were a big part of the Longhorns squad that rocked their way to an undefeated record in the 9C this year, including a dominant performance at the District 9C Tournament in the Havre High Gymnasium, as well as putting up a big fight against the tough Northern C in the Northern C Divisionals at the Four Seasons Arena.

Megan was proud of what she and her sister did to help Fort Benton drive through the 9C in the winter.

"This basketball season, our goal was to go farther than the other basketball seasons," Megan Clark said. "I think we did pretty good at that. We definitely both did very good this year and we improved a lot since the earlier years. It helped us and our team out a lot."

The sisters have been through a lot over the years. Through the rivalry since they were younger to the invisible link that helps them coordinate excellently on the court, McKenzie and Megan Clark have formed a bond that has grown stronger by the day. Growth is important, especially when it comes down to the bond they share as sisters.

Both sisters have a lot of respect and praise for each other, as well. The two compliment each other both in play and in mindset, helping them both excel in their respective sports careers. On top of that, the fire that the two share with each other makes them a tandem to be feared. There is nothing slowing the sisters down when they come together.

Megan enjoyed watching her sister get excited for every game on the court.

"She's always pumped up on the basketball court," Megan Clark said. "You can always feed off of her energy and I think everyone looks to her as a good leader mostly. I think she's the energy of the whole team. In divisionals this year when we played Belt, I think she was so pumped up. It made me feel good about what she was doing and that's the one that I like to look back on."

When it came to their growth on the same team, McKenzie looked back on their freshman year antics and how that was transformed in later years into something good for the both of them.

"I think we've definitely grown a lot," McKenzie Clark said. "In freshman year, we used to get in trouble a lot in basketball because we'd get mad at each other and yell at each other. We'd always make the team run. This year was a lot better and we got along a lot better. Like I said before, we just know where each other is at and it helps a lot."

Megan added that their coach, Cassie Pimperton, saw how much the sisters had come together in the 2019-2020 season.

"Coach really noticed how we had encouraged each other more this year," Megan Clark said. "In previous years, we were always so competitive and it seemed like we would kind of fight on the court. But we've gotten a lot better at encouraging each other and playing together on the team."

When it comes to spring sports, the sister do not compete in the same sport. In the 2020 spring season, McKenzie was to compete in the 800 meter, 4x4 relay, javelin, triple jump and pole vault for the Longhorns, while Megan Clark had plans to put in work on the tennis court for Fort Benton.

And Megan was bummed about the loss of her final tennis season with the Longhorns because she had a goal in mind.

"I play tennis, so I think tennis is like my first sport," Megan Clark said. "I found a lot of success in it and I was looking forward to continue doing that success because I was the only senior on the team this year. I just wanted to play again before college."

On top of that, Megan talked about how the Fort Benton tennis team had a lot of potential in the 2020 season to turn some heads.

"We have a lot of doubles players and a lot of young kids," Megan Clark said. "I think this year we could have had a lot more kids at state. We had a lot of talented freshmen and a junior that was probably going to make state this year, which would have been great to see because normally with state we didn't have very many kids going. It would have been good to see all that stuff this year."

Just as tennis means a lot to Megan Clark, track and field is McKenzie Clark's passion in the spring. McKenzie has been a staple of the Longhorns track and field team within her high school career, where each year, excluding this season, was full of great accomplishments to look back on.

McKenzie has been quite successful when it comes to the sport and she had a lot to look back on when it came to that success.

"Obviously, our freshman year, Fort Benton got first at state, although I didn't have much of a part of it since I was really young and hadn't competed in a lot of events then," McKenzie Clark said. "I think my sophomore year of state track was a really good accomplishment for me because I placed in all three of the events I was in. The relay team is very important to me. This year, the relay team would have been really good. Last year was a really good one, too."

But with the 2020 spring season down and out due to COVID-19, McKenzie Clark will not get her chance to compete in her senior year.

"I was really disappointed because I was just looking forward to having my team there and was looking forward to javelin and pole vault the most," McKenzie Clark said. "Just being there in my final season and the bringing about of the school year. It is what it is."

But even so, McKenzie has been working hard to improve her skills to prepare for her future with the University of Providence Argos track and field team next year. McKenzie Clark signed with the Argos earlier this year, where she will be on the court for the Lady Argos women's basketball team, as well. The tradition of being a two-sport athlete will continue for McKenzie Clark when she moves forward and that makes her happy.

As the virus has kept her without many options, Clark dedicates her time to honing her craft before she heads off to Great Falls.

"I've been throwing javelin a lot and trying to get that built up for next year," McKenzie Clark said. "That's been helping because I still have it in the back of my mind that I'm going to be able to do it next year and such. Other than that, it's been a little tough. It's good to see Mr. Shaw. He's so dedicated to the sport and he was disappointed."

There is a lot these two sisters can put forward together, but, as always, sibling rivalry makes for some interesting moments. When it came down to who was the more competitive sister, McKenzie Clark stepped forward, while Megan Clark noted that she is not excluded when it comes to competitive fire.

"Definitely me," McKenzie Clark said.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Sisters McKenzie, left, and Megan Clark have meant a lot to Fort Benton athletics the last four years, and, they would have shined in track and tennis this spring. But, more than their prowess in Fort Benton sports, they've done what sisters normally do, and that's stick together, support each other and help each other grow.

"I think we both have our moments," Megan Clark added.

And even though the two sisters were not lined up to compete on the track and field team together, they both made it clear that a 50-meter race between the both of them would be quite a close bout.

"It used to be Megan," McKenzie Clark said. "But then she didn't do track. It'd probably be close."

"I don't know," Megan Clark said. "I think I was better at the short distance races than she was when we were in it together."

At the end of the day, McKenzie and Megan Clark have had quite the the year, which only adds to the success they have seen together since their freshman year. In 2019 and 2020, the sisters made a statement on the basketball court, had a lot of potential in spring sports and overall, the Clark sisters have shared a strong bond in their high school sports careers that will carry on with them as they head off to their futures, both ready to still compete with their fire and continue to build each other up.

 

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