Two student-athletes running a cross-country race for Stevens Point Area Senior High in Wisconsin turned around on the track near the end to help a runner from a competing school who had stumbled just 10 yards from the finish, ABC News reports.
The SPASH Panthers described the event on their Facebook page:
At the Neenah meet on Friday [September 1], the Stevens Point Boys’ Cross Country team showed talent, determination and amazing sportsmanship! Aloysius Franzen set a course record and took 1st overall!
Right after, though, a Marquette runner was heading in for the 2nd spot but lost his footing and stumbled, unable to get back up, exhausted from the efforts. Cooper Erickson was in 3rd and passed him right before the finish line. Noticing the fallen runner, Cooper stopped short of the line and returned to his fallen opponent along with Ethan Olds. They were able to encourage the Marquette player up and across the finish line.
It was such an amazing show of sportsmanship! No one would have faulted them for just running past and finishing the race, it is competition after all. The sportsmanship shows the character that we aspire for all our athletes and many have it! That character will serve them (and us) well after they are done competing and living in our communities!
According to SPASH’s website, the boys’ cross-country team has won 12 state titles and is one of the more competitive teams in the region.
ABC News did not identify the runner from Marquette High School in Michigan. The posted results put Ethan in second place and Cooper in third, but notes from the event posted by the school tell a deeper tale more than a hundred years old.
“The scene was very much like the famous incident at the 1908 Olympic marathon in London,” wrote the team. “A delirious Italian runner named Dorando Pietri was helped across the finish line by well-meaning officials, only to be disqualified because he hadn’t crossed the finish line under his own power.”
At the Neenah meet, the race’s head timer, seeing the event—appropriately—as an act of compassion, made it so that it had no bearing on the finish, other than adding a few seconds to the finishing time of the runners.