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High school runners help competitor across finish line – then get disqualified

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Two high school cross-country runners threw the rule book out of the window over the weekend, disqualifying themselves so they could help an injured competitor across the finish line.

Tierney Winter and Kailee Kiminski came to the aid of Jessica Christoffer when they saw her fall 50 meters from the end of Saturday's State Cross Country races in Northfield, picking her up and carrying her over the line, KEYC reports.

High school cross country rules state that runners cannot aid another competitor, so all three of the girls were disqualified, but Winter – a junior running for Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton – said she had no hesitation in helping Jackson County Central freshman Christoffer finish the race.

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"I saw her fall, and it's 50 meters away from the finish and I was like ... I couldn't leave her there," she told KEYC. "I saw a couple of pictures online before, I've seen girls help each other out, so I was like, I'll help her out and we'll see what happens."

"I wouldn't want to be left out there if it was me," she added.

Kiminski, an Esko High School senior running in her last race for the school, was inundated with praise from well-wishers on Twitter, according to KSTP, and was also lauded for her actions on the Esko Pride Facebook page.

Said the post: "Kailee - we couldn't ask for a better example of ESKO PRIDE! Congratulations on your cross country season - you've made a mark that won't soon be forgotten." Other supporters added similar well-wishes in the comments.

Christoffer expressed her gratitude following the race, telling KSTP: "I just got tired and I felt, and it wasn't good, and then there were two girls that ... helped me finish and it was really nice of them. ... I'm really thankful for them."

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Amateur runners show sporting spirit

While you may not see the same level of kindness extended among the nation's elite sports pros, sportsmanship is a top priority for amateur runners.

Just last month there was an almost identical show of kindness at a cross country race in North Dakota, when Melanie Bailey carried Danielle Lenoue on her back so she could get medical attention after she suffered torn tendons during the race.

In 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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