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#pounditFriday, January 21, 2022

High school runner disqualified for helping sick opponent cross finish line


A high school runner was disqualified from her final cross country race as a senior this week for breaking the rules, and that is something she should take great pride in.

Gracie Bucher, an 8th grader from Windom, Minn., was near the finish line at a section cross country race recently when she basically lost control of her body. As Bucher’s legs felt heavy and she struggled to breathe, those watching the race continuously warned other runners that they “can’t touch her” while Gracie fell to the ground numerous times. Under the rules of the Minnesota State High School League, any runner physically assisting another runner results in a disqualification for both.

Liana Blomgren, a 12th grader from Mountain Lake High School, was very familiar with the rules. She didn’t care about the consequences.

“I knew she wasn’t going to get to the finish line by herself and I knew that she needed somebody and nobody else was there for her,” Blomgren told Boyd Huppert of KARE.

Blomgren helped Bucher off the ground and supported her as they both crossed the finish line. Rules, as they say, are rules, and both runners were disqualified. But the gesture could not have been more admirable.

“She was definitely a miracle for me,” Bucher said. “There’s nothing better than that. She was like my angel that day. Knowing that she would do that, especially her senior year in her last race, it just means everything.”

Bucher was later taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with mononucleosis, which explains why she essentially had no energy. She brought Blomgren flowers and a Dairy Queen gift card at Liana’s school the following day.

“I DQ’d her,” Bucher joked. “I figure I better do it again.”

Because of incidents like the one between Bucher and Blomgren, the Minnesota State High School League is among several high school athletic organizations to adopt a new rule starting in 2017 that will allow runners to assist other competitors without penalty as long as a medical care provider is not present.

“I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet last year. I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet the year before that,” Blomgren said. “But I know I’m going to remember this.”

We have seen similar acts of kindness in the past (here’s another great example), and they never get old. Well done, Liana.


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