COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Meghan Vogel rounded the last corner of the last lap on a steamy day last spring and saw another runner struggling to stay upright.
Instead of running past her, Vogel grabbed Arden McMath and slung McMath’s arm over her shoulder. Vogel dragged McMath those last 20 meters to the finish line, and once they got there, Vogel twisted McMath’s body ahead of hers to make sure McMath crossed the line in front of her.
Because of that, the record book says Vogel finished last in the 3,200-meter race that day at the Ohio state high school track meet.
Hard to think of her as anything other than a champion, though.
“I figured the least I could do was help her,” Vogel said.
For helping McMath across the finish line, Vogel, a senior at West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio, received the Jack Kelly Fair Play Award from the U.S. Olympic Committee on Friday.
“I just kind of viewed it as the right thing to do,” she said. “Helping her was my initial reaction. When it turned into such a big thing, I was a little surprised.”
Earlier that day, Vogel had already won the state title in her better race, the 1,600 meters.
These days, she’s being recruited by about 10 colleges. She says a couple of the coaches bring up what she did. More of them don’t. Not a problem for Vogel, who wants to be recruited on her merits as a runner, not a humanitarian.
Turns out, she plays the role of both quite nicely.
“I really don’t think just everyone would have done that,” McMath said a few days after Vogel helped her across the line. “I just couldn’t believe what she did – especially pushing me in front of her – and I’m so grateful.”
- By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
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