MSHSL lauds girls who gave up race to aid competitor

The Minnesota State High School League may yet acknowledge two high school girls it disqualified for helping another runner at state cross country meet in Northfield last week.

Nearly 300 people chimed in on a Star Tribune story yesterday (via the Associated Press), calling on the state high school sports league to recognize the girls.

For example:

I think the MSHSL has an opportunity here to do the right thing. Yes, the girls violated the rules and should be disqualified — and I doubt the HSL wants to change the rule.

But, the MSHSL should publicly recognize these kids’ extraordinary sportsmanship. Every once in a while we hear about these really cool things the athletes do (like Malik Stewart, the Blaine wrestler).

Wouldn’t it be neat if the MSHSL had an annual banquet and honored these kids who demonstrate extraordinary sportsmanship?

As a parent, I want my kids to hear about these stories. I’m sure there are others that happen in other sports across the state throughout the year–just that they aren’t as visible as the state XC meet. Think about it!

And that’s just how it may go.

Writing on his blog today John Millea of the MSHSL gives the proper props to Esko High School senior Kailee Kiminski and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton junior Tierney Winter.

He says they’ll be considered for a national award that “seeks to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport and represent the core mission of education-based athletics.”

Due to national rules that prohibit competitors from assisting other runners, the athletes were disqualified, but that does not diminish from their tremendous act of sportsmanship.

A meet official, who was with Jessica in case medical assistance was needed, informed the other runners that offering aid would violate the rules, yet they didn’t hesitate to assist Jessica in finishing the race.

All cross-country coaches are aware that athletes cannot assist others physically during races, whether teammates or opponents. This rule is based on fairness and the belief that each competitor must complete the course on their own, with no physical assistance. The rule states:

It is an unfair act when a competitor receives any assistance. Assistance includes:
a. Interference with another competitor.
b. Pacing by a teammate not in the race or persons not participating in the
c. Competitors joining or grasping hands with each other during a race.
d. Competitor using an aid during the race.

In addition, there could be serious health concerns for an injured runner if people who are not medically certified attempt to move the athlete.

Despite the consequences, Kailey and Tierney didn’t hesitate in coming to the aid of a fellow competitor. Because of their tremendous act of sportsmanship and selflessness, they will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award. Congratulations to Kailey and Tierney, their coaches, teammates, families and schools.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Good for the MSHSL for recognizing that sometimes when you break the rules you do it for good reasons.

  • John

    Good. Glad they’re addressing this in the way they are.

  • Jack Boardman

    Good! Kailey & Tierney did the right thing. MSHSL responding this way is heartening.