Tennessee teen gives up chance to win race to help save an injured opponent

For the second time in two years, an American teenager has made an inspirational sacrifice on a cross country course after a Tennessee high schooler abandoned a chance to win a race to help out a distressed competitor in his midst.

Seth Goldstein, a senior cross country runner who saved another teen in a race — Goldstein family photo
Seth Goldstein, a senior cross country runner who saved another teen in a race — Goldstein family photo

As reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal and a handful of other outlets, East Memphis (Tenn.) Cooper Yeshiva High School senior Seth Goldstein stopped running on the second lap of a cross country race when he saw a competitor from Germantown (Tenn.) High collapse. While he had been right on the heels of the race's lead pack, Goldstein immediately aborted his chance at a late push to win in favor of helping a fellow teen after he turned to see the fallen runner and noticed that he had blood spilling out of his mouth.

Luckily, Goldstein knew exactly what to do. The 17-year-old ran over to the stricken teen, who had gone into seizures and was nearly choking on his own blood. Goldstein rolled the Germantown student onto his side so he wouldn't choke on his own blood, then mobilized those around him to go and get more help.

"Honestly, I was in shock," Germantown cross country parent Jessica Chandler, who was the first to join Goldstein on the scene, told the Commercial Appeal. "But this guy was taking complete control. He was like, 'You -- call 911. You -- go get some ice.' He turned him on his side. I thought he was a parent or an EMT.

"He was so competent and kind. When the boy started to come out of it he just kept saying, 'You're going to be OK. We're here. We're with you. You're going to be OK.'"

In the end, the unidentified Germantown runner was OK. He had suffered heat-induced seizures and had bitten his tongue, but was able to be safely transported to the hospital once paramedics arrived.

And that's when Goldstein did what can only be described as the classy coup de grace in a thoroughly mature cross country afternoon: He finished the race.

As one might expect, Goldstein finished in last place, but was still roundly -- and rightfully -- recognized as the hero of the event.

Of course, for a teenager who is already a lifeguard by trade, the entire incident seemed a bit old hat, as he told the Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins.

"The EMTs looked at me kind of funny," Goldstein told the columnist. "They're like, 'You're racing? Well, sure, go ahead. I guess you can finish the race.'

"Everyone was clapping for me, like I was the chunky kid who couldn't finish. They were all cheering and saying, 'You can do it!' I'm thinking, 'C'mon, man!'"

He did finish, and regardless of the official standings, there's little question of where Goldstein's performance belonged.

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