Eastern Iowa High School Athlete Shows Incredible Sportsmanship, But Gets Disqualified for It
An Iowa high school senior wins a race and then sees a member of another team in distress. He does what any of us should...he helps. His reward? A disqualification that seems nothing short of ridiculous.
During the district cross country state qualifying meet in Columbus Junction, Zach Hougland of Davis County crossed the finish line ahead of all the other competitors. He had won the school's first-ever district championship. Hougland headed back to his team's camp when he noticed Garret Hinson of Mediapolis, collapse. Zach's head coach, Josh Husted, said when Zach saw him go down he shouted at the other runners, 'Is anyone going to help him?' When they didn't, Hougland sprung into action and ended up putting his arm around Hinson and helped him. He let him go just a few feet away from the finish line.
Hinson was appreciative and shocked telling ABC News, "I was amazed that someone that'd just won the race would come back and help somebody like he did. I never expected something like that to happen to me."
For his unselfishness, Zach earned a disqualification, as did Garret. Why? The assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, Jared Chizek, told ABC that race officials follow rules set forth by the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS). He said those rules, "... do not allow a competitor to receive or give assistance from or to another competitor during a race. If a competitor receives or gives assistance, that competitor is disqualified from the event." Apparently, one having already won and the other being clearly out of contention, doesn't matter.
Hougland and Hinson found out about the disqualifications almost immediately. Hougland was devasted and Hinson felt terrible for his fellow competitor. He told ABC, "Cross-country is a sport that takes months of dedication and training. To take away someone's chances at a state run for helping out someone that was obviously struggling when it was too late to have really affected any results doesn't seem right."
Hougland is a shining example for America's youths and adults (and further proof sportsmanship is not dead). Despite his individual disqualification, he qualified for Saturday's state meet in the team competition and if there's fairness in the world, Davis County will finish first. The young man is deserving. One thing about it... even if his team doesn't win, Zach Hougland already has.