Hudson Atkinson (left) presents Sam Smith with the star quilt after the Eastern C Divisionals on May 20.

Hudson Atkinson, a senior at Scobey High School who runs in cross country and track and field, recently presented Richey-Lambert’s Sam Smith with a star quilt at the Eastern C Divisional track and field meet.

Smith said he was honored to receive the quilt and talked about how much he respected Atkinson, as the two have been competing against each other for years.

Atkinson said giving the star quilt to someone is a Native American tradition, and presenting it to someone is to honor their performances and your connection with them throughout the years, a great way to show respect.

And between Atkinson and Smith, there is a lot of respect.

“Every day, we’d show up to the meets, we’d look for each other, and we’d both hope that we were there. We’d always love running against each other,” Atkinson said.

The decision to give Smith a star quilt started to form during Atkinson’s sophomore year, he said.

In his sophomore year, he won state in cross country, and he said he saw how great of a competitor Sam was and how close he came to winning and wanted him to win too.

That competition and drive and connection the two shared stayed with Atkinson all throughout high school, and he said he loved that feeling so much, which led to him giving Smith the quilt.

For Atkinson, being the one who did the presenting on the quilt, he said he was excited and loved every moment of it.

“Seeing that look of surprise, and how grateful he looked for it, it made it all worth it,” Atkinson said.

The connection between the two made an impact even when they weren’t directly competing against each other.

Smith earlier said that when he trained, he always told himself that Atkinson was training too, which motivated him to get better.

It was a mutual feeling for Atkinson.

“In my good days of running, no one could really keep up except for him, so I’d always have my coach remind me that these workouts may hurt, but they’re going to make me better,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said he sustained an injury that kept him from running for over a year during his sophomore year, and he wasn’t able to run again until after the cross country season in his junior year.

Between that and the track and field season last year being canceled, the two runners missed some competitions against each other, but they were able to compete one last time in their high school careers at the state meet just a couple weeks ago.

Atkinson said it didn’t quite feel real that it was the last meet of his high school career, but there is some good outlook for the future.

The two runners will both be attending Montana State University, so the two can continue to share the connection that has driven them to be successful to this point.

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