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WATCH: Cross-country runners help collapsed competitor get across finish line

A pair of Wisconsin high schoolers surrendered a speedier finish in 'a great act of sportsmanship'

Cross-country race Photo by: Jaime Reeve/Stevens Point Area Senior High

As they were about to cross the finish line at a cross-country race in Wisconsin on Friday, two high school runners slammed on the brakes to help a collapsed competitor get back on his feet, and finish.

The scene, which has been praised as a selfless act and inspiring example of sportsmanship, played out at the Neenah Cross Country Invitational. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Seppi Camilli of Marquette, Mich., was in an all-out sprint against Cooper Erickson, a sophomore at Stevens Point Area Senior High, when Camilli collapsed after losing his footing.

A video of the race shows the rivals were neck-and-neck in the final stretch when Camilli took a tumble. Erickson, upon realizing Camilli had fallen to the ground, slowed his sprint a few metres from the finish line and returned to help him. Erickson was joined by Stevens Point teammate Ethan Olds. The pair positioned themselves on either side of the fallen runner, eased him to his feet, and ran the remaining steps together before Camilli collapsed again on the other side of the finish line.

Camilli was back in good shape after the race, said his coach Derek Marr. “Between fatigue and disappointment of not being able to complete the exceptional race he had just executed, (Camilli) was slow getting back to his feet,” Marr said in an email to the Journal Sentinel. “It was kind and a great act of sportsmanship for the two Stevens Point runners to help him up and across the finish line. Those three athletes had competed hard over the last mile and a half of the race, changing places on multiple occasions, it was great to see true competition enacted by the young men.”

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Also lauding the runners’ actions was Kevin Hopp, Stevens Point co-head coach. “These kids specifically are really great kids and they come from great families, so they understand helping people,” said Hopp. “But in the larger scheme, you go to any cross-country meet and that’s what you’re going to see, a lot of great kids from a lot of families that are there to look out for other kids.

He added while the young athletes are competitive and driven to win, “they also want to help each other because they understand how much time and energy every other kid is putting in at that same time. So they understand when somebody has a bad day or gets themselves into a little bit of trouble.”


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