High School Runner Helps Stumbling Competitor Cross Finish Line: 'That's How My Parents Raised Me'

Benjamin VanHoose
·3 min read

Rick Semmler/Twitter IHSAA Boys Cross Country State Finals

A high school cross country runner stopped in his tracks just steps away from the finish line to assist a competitor who had fallen.

During the Indiana state finals meet in Terre Haute on Saturday, Ben Boardley of Penn High School saw a runner from an opposing team, Faizan Khan of Brebeuf Jesuit, stumble as spectators cheered on the athletes finishing the race, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Boardley, 18, told the outlet he didn't think twice about reaching to bring Khan to his feet and continuing to run with him.

"I just kind of saw it and did it. I guess that’s how my parents raised me," he said. "They taught me to treat others how I'd want to be treated and to be helpful when I can."

Local sports reporter Rick Semmler posted video of the moment on Twitter, writing that it was "great sportsmanship by one of the boys to help a fellow competitor who was struggling to finish."

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According to the Star, Boardley finished the race in 189th place and Khan came in 193rd out of 207 runners. The outlet also noted that helping fellow runners can be grounds for disqualification, though an official cleared this instance.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association officials cited the following rule, per the outlet: "A competitor who provides assistance to an injured or ill competitor should not be disqualified if neither the individual competitor providing the assistance nor his/her team gains an advantage as a result of providing the assistance."

Boardley, a senior, told the outlet that he helped "because I knew if that was me, I wanted to make sure I’d finish at state."

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Khan told the Star that he had fallen some five times throughout the race, citing seasonal allergy complications and pains in his thighs and back. He added that he was unable to stand for about one hour immediately after the race.

"[When] Ben came and helped me, I told him, 'Go finish. I can't,' " Khan recalled. "... At the end of the race, that’s when your true priorities show. I know what Ben’s priorities are and what his true character is like."