Heart Of A Champion

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 2:14pm

High school track champion stops to help injured competitor across the finish line.

Sometimes, a simple gesture can take on a much greater meaning.

That's what happened to one Ohio high school runner whose show of sportsmanship echoed far beyond a track meet.

Meghan Vogel had just run the race of her life.

"Just to be able to achieve something you've worked all your life for, it's a good feeling and you can't put it into words," said Vogel.

She was the 1600 Meter state champion, the first girl from West Liberty Salem to win a track title in more than 20 years.

What people there that day will remember won't be her win, but the race in which she finished last.

"It was really emotional and people came up to us in tears moved by what Meghan had done," said Ann Vogel, Meghan's Mom and track coach.

After her victory Meghan still had the 3200 meters to run, but her emotionally draining win had taken its toll.

She was just trying to finish the race when it happened.

"I was coming around the turn and I had probably 100 meters left and she was 50 meters in front of me and I saw her fall," Meghan said.

What Meghan did next not only lifted up another runner, but an entire stadium.

"I just didn't think twice about it. I knew I was going to pick her up and help her out," she said. "If you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish no matter who you are. I was going to make that happen for her no matter what."

The official results show that Arden McMath from Arlington High School finished 14th in the 3200 meters, Meghan Vogel 15th, but in reality they finished together.

"Distance runners have this camaraderie they build running against each other for sometimes 6 years and you just get this relationship and you become a family," she explained.

After the race, the two shared something else.

"We actually ended up in the same training room together," Meghan said. "In the bed side by side getting fluids and trying to get rehydrated."

Meghan wears her winner's medal with pride, but she doesn't need it to show she's a champion.

"As a parent, it just knocked my socks off with what she did and her compassion and the fact she was just so humble about it and didn't really think it was that big of a deal it really impressed me," Ann added.

Because sometimes it's not where you finish, but how you finish.

On Meghan's shirt is a slogan: "Part Speed. Part Stamina. All heart."

It perfectly sums up the girl who found victory while finishing last.

"I knew any girl on that field would do that for me so I was going to do that for Arden," she said.

Meghan plans to stay in touch with Arden.

Meghan will be a senior next year, Arden a junior, so they'll be running again next year.
 

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