Zach Hougland, a senior at Davis County High School, came in first place at his cross-country meet on Oct. 22, but he was disqualified because he went back to help another competitor, Garrett Hinson, who collapsed on the track in Columbus, Iowa.
"The kid was going into the finish line and totally collapsed," Davis County head cross-country coach Josh Husted told the Ottumwa Courier. "I was just 150 feet away and saw no one was coming to help him. Zach was walking back to our team camp and saw this was an emergency situation."
Both Hougland and Hinson were disqualified due to a national rule, which states that giving or receiving assistance during a race is grounds for disqualification, Bud Legg with the Iowa High School Athletic Association told WHO-TV.
“While it was a sportsmanship act to help someone in distress, it remained a violation, and [the] official had no choice but to enforce the rule,” Legg said.
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Hougland will still have the chance to compete at the state level due to his team’s performance.