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Published September 23, 2011, 11:34 AM

Minnesota prep runner praised for aiding injured rival

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Josh Ripley was a mile into his cross-country race and running hard when he saw a problem: another runner, lying hurt and bleeding from a 3-inch gash left by another runner's spikes.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Josh Ripley was a mile into his cross-country race and running hard when he saw a problem: another runner, lying hurt and bleeding from a 3-inch gash left by another runner's spikes.

Ripley veered over and scooped up the younger runner, carrying him half a mile to help in a snap decision that cost him any chance to win the race but drew praise for sportsmanship.

"He just picked me up and ran with me," said Mark Paulauskas, a Lakeville South freshman who needed 20 stitches in a hospital emergency room to close the wound. "I think it's amazing. ... He stopped his race just to help me."

Ripley, a junior at Andover High School, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/qQCkw9 ) the decision to help during the junior varsity meet Sept. 16 was instinct. He described hearing Paulauskas screaming in pain.

"I just knew I needed to help him," Ripley said. "I think a lot of other runners would have, too, had they realized the situation. But they were really focused on their race. I just couldn't leave him there."

Carrying the 5-foot-5, 100-pound Paulauskas wasn't a problem for the 6-foot-plus Ripley.

Paulauskas' father, Gene, wrote a letter to Ripley's high school principal about the act and also wrote a thank-you letter to Ripley.

"It showed a great deal of sportsmanship and kindness for a runner who was on a different team to stop, forget about his own race and help Mark out," Gene Paulauskas said. "Especially nowadays where everyone is kind of me-first. ....To assist a kid he doesn't know from Adam, that's a pretty neat kid."

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