High school runner disqualified from race after helping rival who collapsed

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COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa — A high school runner in Iowa won a big race, but he won’t get credit. He was disqualified for an act of kindness.

During the district cross-country championship, Zach Hougland helped another runner.

Hougland’s coach says the other runner was on the ground unconscious. Without a second thought, Hougland helped him get closer to the finish line.

“I see this kid, he’s like dying and what not, and he’s about ready to fall,” Hougland told WHO-TV.

However, Iowa state athletic rules say no runner can help or receive aid from another runner, so they were both disqualified.

“I didn’t want anyone to see me break down because I couldn’t take it, all that work for nothing. But if I could do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing because I did what I thought was right,” Hougland said.

The rest of Hougland’s team scored well enough to finish overall and qualified for state. That means Hougland will still be able to compete in their meet this Saturday.

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