By: Angela Wendler
A cross-country runner carried his injured opponent to safety during the Lakeville Applejack Invitational on Friday.
Josh Ripley, a 16-year-old junior at Andover High, was dubbed a hero after stopping to help Mark Paulauskas, a 14-year-old Lakeville South freshman, when no one else would.
Paulauskas was lying on the ground holding his bleeding ankle. When Ripley just scooped him up and kept running, reported the Pioneer Press.
"It was just a natural instinct to stop. He was in desperate need of help. People are more important to me than my race or my time. When someone's in need, it's my responsibility to step up," said Ripley to the Star Tribune.
Paulauskas had been spiked from behind by another runner's shoe. Ripley calmed Paulauskas and got him to safety.
Paulauskas was taken to the hospital where he received 20 stitches to close the 3-inch gash.
After handing Paulauskas off to his coach, Ripley rejoined the race. Ripley had fallen into last place, but he was able to pass a couple of runners before crossing the finish line, reported the Star Tribune.
Ripley's coach and teammates all commented that his actions were extremely characteristic, "sportsmanship and compassion are core to the athlete," reported the Pioneer Press.
Paulauskas admits to the Star Tribune, that before Friday he likely wouldn't have stopped to help an injured runner, "but now I would, because Josh did."