Meghan Vogel, a junior from West Liberty-Salem (West Liberty, Ohio), won an Ohio Division III state championship Saturday in the 1600-meter run, but she can hold her head even higher because of a last-place finish in the 3200-meter run.
She broke away from the favorites in the final 300 meters to win the 1600 in a personal-record 4:58.31. It marked the first girls state track title for her school since 1984 and the second time she broke her own school record this year.
But the applause she received from her unexpected state title was nothing compared to what she was given at the close of the 3200 when she finished last.
Within 20 feet of the finish line, Arden McMath, a sophomore from Arlington (Ohio), was struck with cramps and collapsed in front of her. Instead of sidestepping McMath to finish the race, she helped her to her feet and brought her toward the finish line. McMath was given 14th place and Vogel 15th place.
The Springfield News-Sun reported, “The crowd (at Ohio State University) came to its feet, with the roar growing harder with each step.”
Following a standing ovation, Vogel told the News-Sun, “Helping her across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship.”
Though track rules state that a runner should be automatically disqualified for aiding another runner, officials ignored it due to the outstanding sportsmanship that was shown by Vogel.
“What a selfless act,” Arlington coach Paul Hunter praised. “She could have just gone around Arden. But she chose to help. I’ve never seen that at a state meet. That’s real sportsmanship.”