Teen Runner Slows to Help an Injured Competitor

Indiana teen Axel Aleman celebrated for helping opponent finish ahead of him
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2020 11:26 AM CDT
They Started the Race as Strangers, Finished With a Hug

When high school senior Axel Aleman got home from his cross country race on Saturday, he told his stepmom only that he hadn't produced one of his better times—which shows he has as much modesty as sportsmanship. Aleman, competing in the 5K Southwestern Small School Invitational in Shelbyville, Ind., had been tailing a stranger from another school when he saw the teen make a sudden move as his ankle rolled. "I was able to see he was in a lot of pain. And as I got closer to him, he was limping and I asked if he was all rright," Aleman tells the Indianapolis Star. "He said he felt like something snapped."

As competitors raced past, Levi LaGrange of Western Boone High in Thorntown urged Aleman to continue on. Instead, Aleman of Sheridan High School used his hand to push LaGrange up a hill, then stuck by his side. (The Star has images.) "It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he tells the newspaper, which notes there was a half-mile remaining. "That mattered more than the race. I told him I wasn't going to leave." And he didn’t even as the finish line approached. He let LaGrange finish ahead of him, for 57th place out of about 200 runners. Aleman finished milliseconds later with a time of 20:32.23, then gave LaGrange a hug. "He has amazing character," says LaGrange. "I really admire him and what he did." (This similar act will give you all the feels.)

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