Rich’s Notebook: Nice Guys CAN Finish Last … Or They Can Get DQ’ed
October 3, 2012 · 2 Comments
By Rich Gonzalez
(October 2, 2012) – Remember that news story out of Tennessee that we linked the weekend before last, where 17-year-old Seth Goldstein saved a life by aiding a fallen runner DURING a high school cross-country race? It was a special story (linked here) about one teen helping another in dire need.
It also had a great ending.
The youngster who suffered from a medical condition during the race is fine now, partly thanks to Goldstein, who attended to him when the situation was dire. Once the emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) arrived to continue treatment, Goldstein returned to action and finished his race in a time of 32 minutes and change.
Presumably he finished last in the race so, yes, nice guys can finish last.
At the Stanford Invitational over the weekend, Mira Costa High’s Dillon Shambaugh proved to be a nice guy as well.
But he ended up being DQ’ed.
During the Seeded Boys race early Saturday afternoon, Shambaugh was making his way down the final straightaway when he came upon Bellarmine’s Akshay Alaghatta, who was in clear physical duress as temperatures began spiking.
Rather than zoom by and make a dash for the finish, Shambaugh came to Alaghatta’s aid, grasping him from the side and physically directing him forward toward the finish line (see picture at left, courtesy of Kirby Lee).
One small problem: That’s illegal.
Finish line officials disqualified Shambaugh as rules prevent “aiding” runners during competition. Alaghatta, who received the aid, also was disqualified. Since Mira Costa only had four other finishers in the race, Shambaugh’s DQ meant the team did not have the required five finishers to be credited with a team score.
While the rules allowed for the DQ, some will question if the “spirit and intent” of the rule was followed in making that determination. Some will argue that Shambaugh’s actions didn’t give Alaghatta any sort of competitive advantage and such an act of ‘sportsmanship’ should be praised rather than penalized.
Of course, if Alaghatta’s eventual finish place would have clinched a team title or resulted in earning his team a berth to the state meet while denying it to another, you can bet some would have demanded a DQ.
Ah, such is the slippery slope that results when rules intersect with winning.
While the rules allow for the disqualification to be made, was it proper judgement? That’s one you can decide.
One thing is clear, though. Shambaugh deserves praise for his actions. He made the right call.
More than a month into the 2012 high school cross-country season and we’ve yet to see some big names on the courses. Truth be told, we might not see a couple of them lace up the spikes or racing flats at all this fall.
Among those on the statewide M.I.A. (missing in action) list recently include:
- Nikki Hiltz – As we reportedly early last month, the Aptos HS senior endured a stress fracture that reportedly would sideline her for the rest of the cross-country campaign. Hiltz still harbors hopes of returning in time for the Central Coast Section postseason meets, but coach Dan Gruber has cautioned against a hasty return.
- Blake Haney - The Stockdale junior with gleaming track credentials has been battling IT band issues behind one knee for well over a month. The plan was to debut at Stanford last weekend, but the situation hasn’t improved. During a phone call last week, the defending Central Section champion indicated he’s now completely resting the ailment (no overland training whatsoever) and if it doesn’t heal soon, he may “skip the rest of the season and get ready for track.”
- Angel and Aldo Gil - The siblings from Shafter HS hadn’t competed yet for the squad this season. One of them will not. According to coach Darin Sundgren, Aldo has been booted from the team for disciplinary reasons while Angel has battled back from multiple obstacles and might finally compete as early as this Friday. The group has been moved up to Division II but has been improving with new names on board. They could surprise some teams come postseason.
- Cody Brazeal – The top Division I returnee from last year’s state meet, Brazeal has been hindered in spurts by a heel bruise during the last month. Already forced to skip the Woodbridge/Costa Mesa/Estancia Classic last month, the plan is to have him return to action this weekend at the Clovis Invitational. Training without pain in recent days, Brazeal expressed concern about “not being at the level” he wants to be on race day, hinting at maybe skipping the meet. Bears coach Brain Weaver balked at the idea, saying he told Brazeal, “You”re not going to get to the level you want by sitting on the sidelines when you’re able to run.”
BURBANK’S AMOS SIDELINED FOR THE YEAR
Burbank HS coach Trevor Marca has confirmed that outstanding frontrunner Isaiah Amos will be sidelined for the remainder of the season and, very likely, beyond. According to Marca, the heart-related condition that has plagued the junior has resulted in a battery of tests by cardiologists, who have concluded “his heart is unable to handle the rigorous physical stress required in cross-country without putting his life in unnecessary jeopardy.” Amos clocked a lifetime-best of 15:11 on the standard Mt. SAC course last year.
Marca, who addressed the Amos’ fine personal qualities before the start of the recent Pacific League cluster meet, added that Amos is “a great student with many ambitions outside of running. His medical condition won’t deter him from any of these.”
Earlier last month, a second standout performer in Sergio Fraire (15:49 at the 2011 state meet) was taken off the Burbank team roster for disciplinary reasons. The Bulldogs entered the season as among the top teams in State Division I before the two roster changes. Despite the loss of both runners, Burbank remains a contender for a CIF-SS Finals berth in Division I and harbors aspirations of a berth to state.
NO LONGER JUST THE BELL LAP
The biggest surprise from Stanford weekend was the performance from Granite Bay frosh Maggie Bell (pictured, at left), who won the Division II race in 18:07, three seconds ahead of Westmoor senior Kylie Goo. Both Mike Kennedy and I were left flummoxed by her performance as she went from statewide unknown to instantly stamping herself as a viable All-State candidate in Division II.
Sac-Joaquin Section guru Joe Hartman shared of the fun-natured difficulty he encountered in convincing Bell to try anything longer than one lap (40o meters) last winter in club competition.
“Noooooo… I’ve never raced more than one lap on the track,” was how Hartman recalled Bell’s initial response to the longer distances. She eventually tried a few 1500m races in track, with the success continuing.
Fending off Goo down the stretch at Stanford this past weekend was very impressive; Goo placed third at last year’s CIF Central Coast Section Division II Finals for cross-country and was timed in a lifetime-best 2:10.51 for 800 meters at last year’s track and field state meet prelims.
BEST LEAGUE CLUSTER MEET IN THE STATE?
Our vote for now goes to the Southern Section’s Bay League, where all five league member schools are ranked in this week’s CIF-SS divisional rankings and three are listed in the division’s state rankings.
The Bay League isn’t too shabby on the boys side either, where four teams are ranked in CIF-SS and three are ranked in the state.
Redondo Union’s girls and Palos Verdes’ boys won the first league cluster meet. Here are the results.
The Bay League impressively flexed its muscle nationally this past weekend, with Redondo Union placing second (girls) and fourth (boys) in the featured race at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, Peninsula winning the Championship Division of the Nike PreNationals in Oregon and West Torrance taking first (girls) in the Championship Division and eighth (boys) in the Sweepstakes Division of the Desert Twilight Classic in Arizona.
Mira Costa ventured to Northern California and placed tenth in the loaded interdivisional Seeded Girls race while Peninsula’s girls won the Division II race.
Palos Verdes was the only team not to travel. Instead, they played rude hosts in winning all but one race at its own Palos Verdes Invitational on Saturday. Rude? How else to describe when visiting teams leave with just 1 of the 10 race winner spots! Among the victims was a very powerful Division I squad in Madera South.
Notice, we opened this item with the qualifying phrase “for now”. The tag for the state’s best league, in terms of quality, could change with today’s South Coast League cluster meet. Stay tuned.