Disqualified high school athletes in the running for sportsmanship award

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The two high school girls who were disqualified for helping another runner at a state cross-country meet in Northfield last week will be considered for a national sportsmanship award.

Esko High School senior Kailee Kiminski and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton junior Tierney Winter saw Jessica Christoffer – a competitor from Jackson County Central – fall less than 100 yards shy of the finish.

So they picked her up and carried her over the line.

However, high school cross-country rules say runners cannot aid another competitor, so all three were disqualified.

But now, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) – the same league that disqualified the runners – says the girls will be considered for the national High School Spirit of Sport Award, according to a post on the MSHSL Facebook page.

The award "seeks to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport and represent the core mission of education-based athletics," according to MSHSL. It's awarded annually by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

According to the post, national rules prohibit competitors from assisting other runners. But adds that doesn't "diminish from their tremendous act of sportsmanship," it reads.

The MSHSL says the girls knew they would be disqualified if they helped Christoffer, but did so anyway.

"Despite the consequences, Kailey and Tierney didn’t hesitate in coming to the aid of a fellow competitor. Because of their tremendous act of sportsmanship and selflessness, they will be considered for the Spirit of Sport Award. Congratulations to Kailey and Tierney, their coaches, teammates, families and schools."

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This comes less than a month after North Dakota runner Melanie Bailey carried Danielle Lenoue piggy-back style so she could get medical attention after she suffered a torn tendon in her knee during a Minnesota race. Last week, the runners appeared on "Ellen." The show's host, Ellen DeGeneres, recognized the "inspiring" act of sportsmanship and gave the girls a trip to the Bahamas.

There have been other notable actions by runners in recent years. Blaine, Minnesota, high school junior Tom Anderson helped a fellow competitor to the finish when he saw him fall during a 5K race at Majestic Oaks Country Club in 2012, KARE 11 reports.

And Stillwater runner Mike Johnson, 47, was one of four people who came to the aid of a runner who had collapsed just a few hundred yards of the finish line at the Boston Marathon in April, according to the Star Tribune.

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