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"Any girl on the track would have done the same for me," Vogel said Monday.But Vogel's gesture resonated with the thousands of spectators who witnessed it, as well as with the thousands more who have read about the story or seen video of the race's finish. By the time Vogel arrived home Saturday night, word of her sportsmanship was spreading. She had 30 new friend requests on Facebook within a few hours. Ohio media pounced on the story and lauded Vogel's selfless act. Monday was supposed to be a "pajamas day" at the Vogel home in West Liberty, a day to relax after last week's conclusion of the school year and the busy weekend at the state championships. Instead. it was spent reliving the race.
"The phone's been ringing a lot," said Ann Vogel, Meghan's mother and coach.
It wasn't Meghan's first act of sportmanship on the track.
A week earlier, at the state qualifying meet, West Liberty-Salem was running fifth in the 4x800 relay when Vogel took the baton for the anchor leg. She summoned a big effort and passed two other runners, clinching a berth in the state championships for her team.
Vogel was so wiped out after crossing the finish line that she collapsed, and her excited teammates rushed to her side to help her back to her feet. But then Vogel saw one of the girls she had passed, a freshman who also had fallen.
Vogel went to the other runner and offered a hand up and a few words of encouragement."She was in fourth (one spot from qualifying for state) and felt awful," Vogel said.
|When distance runner Arden McMath (left), collapsed 20 meters from the end of the 3,200 race at the Ohio Division III girls state meet, fellow runner Meghan Vogel helped carry her to the finish line.|
“"We're a little bit of a minority being distance runners," Vogel said. "I think we all have an instant connection." A race that had become pointless in the grand scheme of the day for Vogel quickly took on a new meaning. "I think fate may have put me (in last place) for a reason," Vogel said. Ann Vogel was across the track and couldn't see her daughter when she stopped. But a coaching friend told Ann Vogel, "Ann, look up at the screen." She turned to the video board and saw her daughter supporting another runner on her shoulder.
It's strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like 'humanity.' When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people's lives. I don't consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.” -- Meghan Vogel on carrying opposing runner across finish line
"I ran around (the perimeter of the track) as fast as I could," Ann Vogel said. "It wasn't easy to get around with all of the people standing there but I was hearing the crowd and I could see tears running down people's faces."
McMath was quickly scooped up by medical staff. By rule, a runner in track or cross country is automatically disqualified for aiding another runner, but meet officials chose to leave McMath and Vogel in the results rather than take action.McMath was given 14th place in 12:29.90, and Vogel 15th in 12:30.24.
A half-hour after the race was over, Vogel grabbed her mother's shoulder and said she felt dizzy and a little nauseated. Ann Vogel found a trainer and together they moved Meghan to a tent.
Vogel sat down with a cup of Gatorade on a cot that was positioned next to McMath, who was lying down and still recovering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.
"She was still pretty sick at that point," Meghan Vogel said of McMath. "Her coach turned to me and said, 'Thank you.' "
The two girls will meet again, formally this time, Tuesday morning for an interview with the TV show "Fox And Friends."
The response to her simple gesture has taken Vogel by surprise."It's been crazy. I can't understand why everyone wants to talk to me, but I guess I'm getting used to it now," she said. "It's strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like 'humanity.' It's weird. When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people's lives. I don't consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do."