NMU athlete helps competitor finish race

One NMU cross country runner showed a sign of sportsmanship by helping a competitor at a race September 28 at the Roy Griak Invite in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Sophomore Jaylee Brown was close to the finish line when she saw a runner, Lillie Koerner, from Dort College, fall on the course.

About 25 runners ran past the runner, but Brown stopped to help her.  She knew it was the right thing to do.

“She was there and I saw here, and there were a bunch of people passing her,” Brown said.  “And she was the only thing that was really in  my view.  I mean normally you’d be looking at the finish line, but for some reason I was looking at her. ”

“It was just this feeling that I knew I wanted to help her out, I knew I wanted to help her finish because I definitely know how it feels to be at the end of the race and you can’t go that far and not finish.”

Brown said she put Koerner’s arm around her shoulder and kept encouraging her, saying ‘We’re going to finish’.  Even though she was close to finishing, Brown said her placement in the race didn’t matter.

“I just remember a ton of girls passing me, but you know the placement didn’t really bother me,” Brown said.  “Helping her was more important than anything else.”

Coach Jenny Ryan said cross country runners are all very supportive of each other, even on opposing teams.

“(Cross country) is more of a family–like atmosphere, especially within our team,” Ryan said.  “So for Jaylee to do that was something that would be done in cross country, but it was also hard for her at the same time because she was finishing a race and had already run over 24 minutes really hard, so to get that close to the finish line and then actually stop and help somebody, it just shows what her character is and how great of a person she is.”

Neither Brown’s teammates nor Coach Ryan were surprised that Jaylee stopped to help another runner.

“Everyone’s reaction was more than I expected,” Brown said.  “I didn’t expect anything…it was natural…I didn’t expect anything.”

“The whole team is really such a great group of young women and they’re hard working, they’re positive, but they’re good people,” Ryan said.  “I wasn’t surprised at all, because Jaylee’s such a good person and she thought it was the right thing to do and she did it.”

Photos and video of the Roy Griak Invite and the NMU Cross Country Team are by Brian Harrell, of Eagan, Minnesota.