Teen Loses His First-Place Title In Race After Helping A Fellow Runner

Teen Loses His First-Place Title In Race After Helping A Fellow Runner

Angela Markus

In the world that we live in today, generosity seems to be a dwindling virtue. If we were to go by the news, it is easy to believe that acts of kindness are far and few in between. But, every now and again we come across stories of selflessness that deserve to be shared. One such story is Zach Hougland’s altruism. Regardless of knowing the consequences of the rule, the 17-year-old cross country runner decided to defy it and help his opponent anyways.

Hougland’s decision to help a fallen runner cost him a cross country state qualifying meet title. But, it demonstrated a compelling lesson in sportsmanship and sacrifice.

The Davis County of Bloomfield senior finished first in a qualifying meet but was later disqualified when he helped an opponent who collapsed near the finish line — a conflict that violates state rules.

When Hougland crossed the finish line, it was to be his first district championship while earning him, his fourth trip to the state meet. Upon looking back, he saw Mediapolis High School senior Garrett Hinson struggling in distress collapsing 15 meters short of the finish line. He then shouted, “Is anyone going to help him?”

When there was no response, Houghland took the initiative to run to Hinson’s aide. He helped Hinson to his feet and guided him for a few steps before the Mediapolis runner reached the end of the race.



But the good-natured act did not come without a backlash. Both runners were disqualified. Fortunately for Hougland, who was praised for his stellar sportsmanship by fans and runners, will still be able to run at the state meet because his team finished third overall.

It pays to be kind, even though the repercussions might suggest otherwise.

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