Runner disqualifies himself to carry friend at state championship

Riverton High School senior Sean Rausch spent years preparing for the Utah state cross country championship, but when the big day came he realized there’s something far more important.

“Our training plan, everything was geared toward state, so we wanted to win state for sure,” Rausch told Fox 13.

“This is my senior year,” he said. “This was obviously my last opportunity to race at state so this was obviously a big meet for me.”

Raush was competing at Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Park Oct. 18 when the teen came across his teammate, junior Blake Lewis, struggling to finish the race about 400 meters from the finish line. That’s where Lewis said he felt a sharp pain in his leg, though he initially tried to carry on.

“Then at like 300 it started really hurting and then 200 I just heard my bone snap,” Lewis told the news site.

His mother, Brooke Lewis, heard the snap, as well, and watched as her son collapsed in agony.

“I thought he stepped on a branch,” she said.

“It was excruciating,” Lewis said. “It was like no other pain I’ve felt.”

Brook Lewis told Fox 13 she was about to run out to her son when Rausch beat her to it. Hoisting Lewis on his back, Rausch disqualified himself from the biggest meet of his life to ensure his teammate wasn’t left behind.

“I put him on my shoulders and he was screaming the whole way, but I kept telling him, ‘We’re a family, we’re a team, and we’re all in this together,” Rausch said.

“He picked me up and brought me to the finish line and disqualified himself for something greater and it definitely made my day,” Lewis added.

Rausch carried his teammate to the end of the race, then let him down to help him cross the finish line. The teens later learned that a cyst in Lewis’ tibia burst during the race, according to the news site.

“As soon as I saw him, I gave him a big hug and told him he’s a hero to me,” Lewis said. “I’ve run thousands of miles with this guy, and like when someone picks you up you know that they love you, you know.”

Rausch shrugged it off.

“I’m not a hero,” he said, “I’m just Blake’s brother.”

He’s also a prime example of the type of person parents hope their children will become.

“The overwhelming majority of American parents (96 percent) say ‘strong moral character’ is very important, if not essential, to their children’s future,” according to “Culture of American Families,” a 2012 report by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

Parents know that character is destiny, and that “the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.” Educational leaders can partner with parents in their goals by adopting an intentional focus on character and citizenship in their schools.

“You hope that your son would be that kind of kid, that your son would pick that person up and carry them in, and I’m just so grateful for Sean that he was that kid,” Brooke Lewis told Fox 13.