Runner’s Sportsmanship Acquires Massive Attention

What this high school distance runner did that garnered her national attention.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Sometimes it's easy to fall into the sports media trap of reporting everything negative that happens to athletes; from the high school level and up. Stories of athletes failing in some capacity draws the attention of many people for various reasons, which is why it's often the lead of many sites and papers.

However, it's not always negative out there in the sports world, and when a story like the one about junior distance runner Meghan Vogel comes along, it's somewhat refreshing.

Vogel, of West Liberty-Salem (West Liberty, Ohio), won the state title Saturday in the 1,600 meters in the Division III girls state meet at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus. She did it by beating Versailles' Tammy Berger, a state title holder herself, in the final leg of the race. That feat, while impressive however, isn't why Vogel has garnered the interest of media sources across the country, even to the extent where she is going to do a segment on Fox and Friends.

No, Vogel is receiving attention for a simple, yet profound, act of kindness and sportmanship that has touched the hearts of all who witnessed it.

An hour after winning the 1600, Vogel was scheduled to run the 3200. Shortly into the race, however, she gassed out and fell to the back of the pack.

"The first two laps, I felt fine, then I started feeling heavy in the legs," Vogel said. "I looked over at my mom (Ann), who's my coach, and I shook my head. I kind of blew my energy in the 1,600."

Sitting at 15th, last of the racers, with 200 meters to go, Vogel noticed that the runner ahead of her, Arden McMath of Arlington, was struggling. McMath, a sophomore, fell to the track, got up and began to fall again when Vogel caught her and continued the race, supporting the struggling McMath.

They both finished the race together but Vogel made sure that McMath finished ahead of her. Both were bombarded with a roar of approval and cheer from the crowd after finishing the race.

"I don't really remember much about it," Vogel said. "It was kind of a blur. I just remember picking her up and trying not to injure her as I crossed the line. She deserved to be in front of me."

This act of kindness, not out of character of Vogel according to teachers and friends who praise her humility and friendliness, could have got her disqualified from the race but race officials showed their humanity in not enforcing the rule that could have been used against her.

In the ensuing days, Vogel said she has had roughly 80 friend requests on Facebook, mostly from people she doesn't know, as well as received praise from coaches from Akron and Toledo. She has even traveled as far as Massachusetts to do radio and TV interviews.

Overall, Vogel has been overwhelmed by the amount of praise and attention she has received for doing something that she says anyone would do; but, really, she deserves every bit of it for reminding us that there is more to be found than cheating, drugs and breaking laws in our athletics today.

"I'm really surprised by the reaction," Vogel said. "I didn't think it would become national news. I was just helping her out. I know she would do the same for me."

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on

Photo Credit: AP