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A Memorable Moment
June 3, 2012 - Al Stephenson
As is usually the case I went to Columbus on Friday for the State Track Meet prelims. It was a rainy day, but worth the trip as several area athletes did very well. I returned on Saturday for the finals, which is not usually the case. My wife wanted to go somewhere and I suggested Columbus for the meet and she surprisingly agreed. It was a day that we will not soon forget.
We were watching the Division III meet in the morning and when Tiffin Calvert's Olivia Smith took top honors in the 800 meter race, I'm thinking that the event would be my highlight of the day. Though a podium finish was a strong possibility, winning the race seemed to be a remote possibility. Smith however would not be denied and I assumed everything else that took place would be relegated to second place on my list of memories. Turns out I was wrong.
Two events later a moment took place that I will remember forever. Fifteen girls took to the track to run the 3200 meter race. Ironically the only scratch was the girl that had the fastest regional time coming into the meet. The slowest time belonged to Arlington sophomore Arden McMath whose regional time was nearly 13 seconds behind the next slowest time. Now nobody wants to finish last in any race, but McCath had to assume that she may be destined to end up the last one to cross the finish line.
As the race unfolded McCath expectedly went to the back of the pack. She was not last however. That distinction belonged to Meghan Vogel of West Liberty Salem. Having a time that should put her in the middle of the competition, Vogel was trailing the field by a wide margin. Why she was so far back was a mystery to all of us in the stands. Perhaps she was ill or injured. Whatever the problem, it appeared she would be the last place finisher in the event.
After the winner and several others had crossed the finish line McCath came around the fourth turn where we were sitting. She looked pretty tired and I remarked to my wife that the last place girl might just catch her. With fifty yards to go McCath's legs turned rubbery and she fell down. She struggled to her feet only to fall down again. A meet official started going to her aid, but had to step back as Vogel was approaching. Turns out his help would not be needed.
When Vogel got to McCath she stopped and leaned down, helping the fallen runner to her feet. She took one step with her, but McCath's legs buckled and she nearly went down again. Vogel then took McCath's arm, put it around her shoulder and then placed her arm around McCath's waist. They were going to get to the finish line by golly.
The large crowd at Jesse Owens Stadium was on its collective feet and the applause began. Forty yards to go, then thirty. The goose bumps were raised on my arms. The scene was so moving. As the duo approached the finish line, Vogel had one more display of sportsmanship left. While holding on to McCath she stepped back allowing the Arlington runner to cross the finish line ahead of her.
The record books are forever going to show that Arden McCath finished 14th in the 3200 meter run at the 2012 State Track Meet. Likewise it will also show that Meghan Vogel finished fifteenth and last in the same event.
The view from my seat suggests that twenty years from now Meghan Vogel will be the first name that I'll remember.
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