Some cross-country coaches might hope to forget a race that saw a runner lose by a hair. For coach Jason Hyatt of New York's Cazenovia High School, the final stretch of Saturday's boys junior varsity race in Auburn "will be a memory I'll carry with me for a long time." Cazenovia sophomore Jake Tobin was leading and approached a steep hill with a little more than 600 feet to go when Fairport High School's Luke Fortner came into view. With the crowd behind him, Fortner, who is legally blind, headed up the hill past Tobin, but then slipped. As Fortner's aide moved to help, Tobin didn't blink. He "got down and lifted [Fortner] up with his guide, and then helped push him up the hill,'' Hyatt tells Syracuse.com.
Accompanied by his aide, Fortner went on to win the race, crossing the finish line 2 seconds before Tobin, who could be seen clapping and cheering, per the AP. "It was touching to see, and … a great example of true sportsmanship," says Hyatt. Equally impressed, Fortner's coach sent an email to the school praising Tobin's selflessness. "It was an awesome display of sportsmanship and kindness,'' he wrote. "Jake deserves to be commended!!!!" The sophomore apparently wasn't prepared for any fuss, however. "I had the opportunity to shake Jake's hand right after this race," Fortner's mom writes on Facebook. "Jake didn't see what the big deal was." (This high schooler helped a woman win a marathon.)