- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Competitive fire turned into compassion at the Nebraska Class C state cross-country meet in Kearney, when one of the runners stopped to help another finish what would be their last high school race.

Liam Murphy of Kearney Catholic High School saw Sidney High School’s Jachob Wiedeburg falter on Friday afternoon around 3,500 meters into the 5K race. Wiedeburg told The Sidney Sun-Telegraph (https://bit.ly/1wDI5Qq ) later that his legs “just shut down,” but he wouldn’t quit.

“There was no way I was dropping out of that race, senior year at state,” Wiedeburg said. “I was just looking for something to get me through it.”

That “something” turned out to be a stranger and a competitor, Murphy.

“I was coming around that last corner and I saw him stumbling,” Murphy said. “As I got closer, I could tell he wasn’t going to finish on his own. I didn’t know him personally, but I knew he was a senior and it was his last race. I couldn’t let him not finish.”

So Murphy stopped, flung his right arm around Wiedeburg’s back and helped him struggle forward. At the finish line Murphy let Wiedeburg cross first. Wiedeburg ended up in 88th place, Murphy in 89th. The newspaper said the crowd rewarded both of them with loud and lengthy applause.

“I wouldn’t have been able to finish without him picking me up,” Wiedeburg said. “That meant the world to me.”

Sidney head coach Tony Neels said Murphy was the biggest winner at the meet.

“That was a special moment I will never forget,” Neels said. “As a coach, I tell my kids that winning is fun but seeing them become good people is much more important to me.”

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Information from: Sidney Sun-Telegraph, https://www.suntelegraph.com

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