Real Winners Don’t Always Medal

Real Winners Don’t Always Medal

by Bud Legg, Iowa High School Athletic Association

How many young men would ditch an opportunity to medal in the State Cross Country Meet for the third consecutive year?

Mount Vernon-Lisbon’s outstanding distance ace senior Chris Legore was faced with that question on November 2 at the State Cross Country Championships, and how he answered affirms our belief in today’s youth and the values that one derives from athletic competition.

Legore is a talented runner. As a freshman he was 23rd, then seventh as a sophomore, and in 2001 he was runner-up in Class 2-A. By any assessment of this year’s 2-A championship field that assembled at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge, he was projected in the top ten.

But his name is not among those in the meet’s results. However, in the unprinted “Final Results” he is a champion.

With less than 200 yards left in the race, when it is to won or lost, he was faced with a huge decision. Teammate Conrad Lichty, a sophomore, was running second and Chris was in eighth and moving up. A possible state team title was within reach if they could hit the finish line in something close to that order.

Then Lichty began to falter. One hundred yards from the finish line, he collapsed as Legore watched from behind.

“I saw that Conrad was faltering,” Legore told Cedar Rapids Gazette sportswriter Jeff Linder, “His balance was gone. When I got to him, he went down.”

Legore, an easy sprint from the finish line, could have carted off his third straight top-ten finish, but he chose to stay with Lichty and help him to his feet. They continued a few yards before Lichty went down again. And again Legore picked him up. They finished together, arms locked in 15th and 16th place.

According to the rules, physically aiding a runner is illegal and Legore and Lichty both were disqualified. Their points, which would have lifted the team from seventh in the final results to first were erased.

“I did not know you couldn’t assist a teammate,” Legore said, “but it wouldn’t have changed what I did.”

“My mom (Diane) told me that’s the proudest she has ever been of me. It’s hard to be disappointed with yourself after you hear that.”

Lichty received immediate medical attention and recovered at Lakeside.

“I couldn’t even talk for a few minutes,” he told Linder. “The first thing I said was to tell Chris thanks. There was no way I was going to get to the finish line without him.”

A State Championship is nice; no denying that. But it is largely a memory for those who win it. Being a State Champion human being is enduring and pervasive. It provides an important lesson that will stay in the memory of the thousands of spectators and athletes who witnessed Legore’s values at work.