Meghan Vogel, a high school junior, became her school’s first track champion in 20 years when she won the 1,600-meter race at the Ohio Division III state track meet Saturday in Columbus.
But her last-place finish in the 3,200 is the one that’s going to be remembered because of a touching display of sportsmanship.
The West Liberty-Salem runner, who earlier won the 1,600, was running out of gas and at the back of the pack when she noticed Arden McMath, an Arlington High sophomore, collapsing. Vogel stopped and helped her cross the finish line, even though it meant that McMath finished 14th and Vogel 15th.
“I was coming around the turn and I had probably 100 meters left and she was 50 meters in front of me and I saw her fall,” Vogel said (via WDTN.com). “I just didn't think twice about it. I knew I was going to pick her up and help her out. If you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish no matter who you are. I was going to make that happen for her no matter what.”
McMath told the Dayton Daily News she was surprised to see Vogel pick her up. “I just couldn’t believe she’d done that for me," McMath said. “We’re all in it together as distance runners. Everyone is trying to do their best. It’s a lot harder on your body than a lot of the other races.”
Vogel told the Daily News that reaction to her gesture — one YouTube video has over 2 million views — is “overwhelming and humbling at the same time. People are telling me I’m a role model for their children. I’m very honored.”