Luke Graham: Nothing wrong with friendly competition

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Two weeks and counting until the 2,346th Danny Noonan Invitational.

It's a little golf tournament a buddy of mine and I concocted several years ago to continue our "friendly" competition we had in high school.

In high school, we each played golf, basketball and baseball. In each sport, the only thing that rivaled winning was beating each other.

We battled on the basketball courts, often ending sessions in shoving matches. We played golf together, and always tried to outdo the other. We played baseball together and if he went 3-for-4, my goal was to go 4-for-4. It didn't matter he was markedly better than me, it only mattered that we competed.

Despite going 1-42 in the Noonan last year and holding a career record of 336-2,010, we're still friends and I still love to compete against him.

Friday at the Clint Wells Invitational, I saw some friendly competition that I love.

Hayden throwers Emily Whiteman and Holli Salazar will have a dinner on the line at the league meet Saturday in West Grand.

The bet is just part of the friendly competition the two have developed playing three sports together.

Each meet, the two battle in the shot put. Some weeks Salazar wins. Some weeks Whiteman does.

Either way, the way they push each other exhibits one of those special little ticks of growing up in a small town and playing sports.

There's the fans, the relationships with your team and the heightened excitement around town of having a good team.

But the best thing has to be the friendly rivalry within a team and players.

Salazar and Whiteman usually bet doughnuts on who will throw further. In Craig on Friday, Whiteman went up a dozen with a state-qualifying throw.

Salazar was happy for Whiteman, but she also was mad. More at herself than anything, but still mad she lost the bet.

"I think we make each other very competitive," Whiteman said. "I don't think I'd be throwing as far unless I'd be throwing against her."

The competition for the two doesn't end there. The two played volleyball and basketball together and both played the same position. Both admit it would get heated during basketball practice, but they said it made them better players.

"We set the marks for each other to beat," Whiteman said, "and that's what makes us competitive against everyone else."

It also brings them closer together.

After Whiteman had qualified for state and Salazar just missed the mark by a few inches, the first person to pick Salazar up was Whiteman.

"She's one of closest people to me in Hayden because of sports," Whiteman said.

Let's just hope my friend's as nice to me on the 19th hole of the Noonan.

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