Sportsmanship, friendship better than victory

A cross-country runner from Crystal Lake Central High School in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs took time out from running to help a friend at the Fox Valley Conference meet on Saturday, October 15. His friend was running for Crystal Lake South and leading before his legs started giving out, the Northwest Herald reports.

Central’s Cole Barkocy was running in second just before he came to John Hill, a well-known incline that has given runners difficulty many times, with about 800 meters to go on a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course. In front of him was South’s Jack Becker, a junior whose sister Shauna captured the above picture on Twitter. Barkocy, a senior, tried to help Becker down the hill, assistance that’s completely within the rules, but at the bottom of the hill, Becker was unable to finish the race.

A few other runners passed Barkocy in the meantime, and he ended up fifth, but Central still won the team title for the meet on account of having one runner finish fourth, just ahead of Barkocy.

“I thought I could help [Becker] out and we could both still finish 1, 2,” the paper quoted Barkocy as saying. “I thought he could get his legs going and we could both finish together. Jack and I are really close friends. That meant much more, doing that for him, than it would have to win the conference race.”

Becker was running at a break-neck speed, according to his coach, who said he passed the 2-mile mark at 10:08.

“I was exerting my body more than I was capable of,” the Northwest Herald quoted Becker as saying. “My legs felt like giant weights. I couldn’t move anymore. Cole grabbed me and told me to put my arm around him, but my legs couldn’t move.”

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.