As Meghan Vogel turned for home during Saturday’s Ohio Division III girls state meet, she was in last place in the 3,200-meter race with no hope of finishing anywhere near the top. But her last-place finish became the most memorable part of the meet.
With 20 meters to go, Vogel, a junior at West Liberty-Salem High School in Urbana, was about to pass Arden McMath, a sophoomore from Arlington High School, when McMath collapsed on the track. Rather than continue running, Vogel helped McMath to her feet, placed McMath’s arm around her shoulders and carried her across the finish line.
“Any girl on the track would have done the same for me,” Vogel told ESPN.
Vogel made sure McMath crossed the finish line first and said she was surprised by the praise she received for an act of selflessness she believed was anything but extraordinary.
“It’s strange to have people telling me that his was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like ‘humanity,’” she told ESPN. “When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people’s lives. I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”
Under the rules, a runner is automatically disqualified for helping another runner during a race, but the officials allowed McMath and Vogel’s finish to remain in the results, a lasting testament to what was much more than a last-place finish.
The Associated Press and ESPN contributed to this report.