Athletes strive to be the best and will go all out to get the advantage. But sometimes friendship is stronger than the desire to win, as this story shows.
It was Wednesday, October 15, at the Utah State Championship for track and field. Sean Rausch and Blake Lewis, two students from Riverton High School, were all amped up and ready to race. This was going to be the biggest cross-country race of the year.
“Our training plan, everything was geared toward state, so we wanted to win state for sure,” Sean told Fox 13 News.
The race got off to a good start, but at around 400 meters from the finish line, Blake noticed a sharp pain in his leg. As he continued to run it got worse and worse.
Blake heard his shin bone snap.
“At like 300 it started really hurting and then 200 I just heard my bone snap,” he said.
Blake had broken his tibia. The snap was so loud that his mother, Brooke Lewis, heard it from the stands. At first she thought he had stepped on a branch but then she heard his bloodcurdling scream.
“It was excruciating,” Blake explained. “It was like no other pain I’ve ever felt.”
“I have never actually heard him scream like that before,” his mother elaborated.
Brooke was getting ready to run over and hop the fence to look after her boy but then Sean did something incredible.
The rules state that any runner who touches another athlete is automatically disqualified from that race. Yet despite being a senior student and knowing this was his last chance to race at state, Sean just couldn’t leave his friend behind.
Sean picked him up and carried him to the finish line.
“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,'” Sean said.
Just before they reached the finish line, Sean put Blake down so he could hop across the line in front of him.
“I believe that everyone should finish,” Sean told Inside Edition.
Even though the rules prevented them from placing, Blake and Sean came out feeling like winners.
“He picked me up and brought me to the finish line and disqualified himself for something greater and definitely made my day,” Blake told Fox 13 News.
Once the race was over, Brooke approached Sean with a big hug and called him a hero. Yet Sean is just too modest for such a title.
Blake feels like a brother to Sean.
“I’m not a hero, I’m just Blake’s brother,” Sean said.
The boys have had quite a history, running literally thousands of miles together. Over the years, they’ve formed a deep connection.
“When someone picks you up you know that they love you,” Blake explained.
There is still one more opportunity for Sean to race before he graduates. Riverton High will be competing in the Nike cross regional in Arizona this month. As for Blake, he has another year left before he graduates although it will take some time for his leg to heal.
The state championships could very well have been the last time Sean and Blake will race together. Still, this tale of friendship, perseverance, inspiration, and perspiration (what with all the running and all) is certainly a race they’ll remember.