A Salt Lake City, Utah, teen said he does not regret being disqualified from the state cross-country championship after carrying his injured teammate on his back and over the finish line.
With 200 meters remaining in the Salt Lake City race last week, Riverton High School senior Sean Rausch stopped running as he saw teammate Blake Lewis writhing in pain.
Lewis, 16, hit the ground after hearing a crack that was immediately followed by sharp pain in his left leg, the Deseret News reported. Lewis had broken his tibia.
“It was a very easy decision to make. Me and Blake have been through so much together,” Rausch said. “He’s always been there for me. This was, honestly, the least I could do for him.”
Rausch asked Lewis if he wanted to finish the race, and then he carried his teammate through the last section. Both runners were disqualified, and it was the last state-level race for Rausch.
Lewis said he cried every step of the way for not only the pain, but because he knew the sacrifice his friend had made.
“I was thinking, ‘What are you doing? You’re taking yourself out of the race. You’re disqualifying yourself,’” Lewis said.
Doctors expect it will be at least six months before Lewis can return to his former training regimen, he said. But Rausch’s actions during the race have inspired him to come back stronger.
“Because Sean carried me, in the future, I’m going to be there for someone else that has a problem, to carry a person to the finish line,” Lewis said. “I want to be that person and be there for our team to grow the bonds we have and make them stronger.”
While Rausch and the team train for an upcoming race in Arizona, Lewis said he’s glad his friend is receiving the recognition he deserves.
“We wanted to bring home a trophy, but we brought home something more valuable — a life lesson that will probably never be forgotten by my teammates,” Lewis said.