High School runner disqualified after helping struggling competitor cross the finish line

WINDOM, Minn. — A high school cross-country runner was disqualified from her last high school race after coming to the rescue of a younger competitor struggling to cross the finish line.

KARE reports that Gracie Bucher, an eighth grader, was trying to qualify for a state cross-country meet when it happened. She’d just started running when she felt her chest tighten, and her legs felt heavy. She tried to finish, but was staggering and falling over and over again.

Luckily, Liana Blomgren, a 12th grader, was approaching the finish line at the same time. She helped Gracie to her feet and supported Bucher’s weight as the two crossed the finish line.

“I knew she wasn’t going to get to the finish line by herself and I knew that she needed somebody and nobody else was there for her,” Blomgren told KARE.

The two were both disqualified under Minnesota State High School League rules. The rules state that one runner can’t help another runner or both will be disqualified.

Blomgren said she knew she’d be disqualified from the race, which was her last before she’d graduate high school. She said she just had to help.

Now, Bucher, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis following the race, describes Blomgren as her angel.

“She was definitely a miracle for me,” she said. “Knowing she would do that, especially in her senior year in her last race, it just means everything.”

KARE reports that due to similar incidents, the national organization that oversees high school athletics recently ruled that starting in 2017 a runner who stops to help a competitor will not be disqualified so long as a medical care provider is not available.

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