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High school runner disqualified from race after helping rival who collapsed

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Posted at 8:20 AM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 15:10:37-04

COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa -- A high school runner in Iowa won a big race, but he won't get credit. He was disqualified for an act of kindness.

During the district cross-country championship, Zach Hougland helped another runner.

Hougland’s coach says the other runner was on the ground unconscious. Without a second thought, Hougland helped him get closer to the finish line.

"I see this kid, he's like dying and what not, and he's about ready to fall," Hougland told WHO-TV.

However, Iowa state athletic rules say no runner can help or receive aid from another runner, so they were both disqualified.

“I didn't want anyone to see me break down because I couldn't take it, all that work for nothing. But If I could do it all again I wouldn't change a thing because I did what I thought was right," a heartbroken Hougland told WHO-TV.

The rest of Zach’s team scored well enough to finish overall and qualified for state. That means Zach will still be able to compete in their meet this Saturday.