Josh Ripley was a mile into his cross-country race and running hard when he saw a problem: another runner, lying hurt and bleeding from a 3-inch gash left by another runner's spikes.
Ripley veered over and scooped up the younger runner, carrying him half a mile to help in a snap decision that cost him any chance to win the race but drew praise for sportsmanship.
"He just picked me up and ran with me," said Mark Paulauskas, a Lakeville South freshman who needed 20 stitches in a hospital emergency room to close the wound. "I think it's amazing. ... He stopped his race just to help me."
Ripley, a junior at Andover High School, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press the decision to help during the junior varsity meet Sept. 16 was instinct. He described hearing Paulauskas screaming in pain.
"I just knew I needed to help him," Ripley said. "I think a lot of other runners would have, too, had they realized the situation. But they were really focused on their race. I just couldn't leave him there."
Carrying the 5-foot-5, 100-pound Paulauskas wasn't a problem for the 6-foot-plus Ripley.
Paulauskas' father, Gene, wrote a letter to Ripley's high school principal about the act and also wrote a thank-you letter to Ripley.
"It showed a great deal of sportsmanship and kindness for a runner who was on a different team to stop, forget about his own race and help Mark out," Gene Paulauskas said. "Especially nowadays where everyone is kind of me-first. ....To assist a kid he doesn't know from Adam, that's a pretty neat kid." ---
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)