A Roger Bacon High School runner demonstrated Wednesday night that some types of winning are more important than others.
Roger Bacon (Cincinnati, Ohio) senior sprinter Keith Gause had already won first place in the 100-meter dash and with the 4×200 relay team at the April 10 Norwood Invitational meet.
Favored to win the 200 race, he had plans to accelerate after making the turn until he saw someone in the middle of his lane. A Winton Woods (Cincinnati, Ohio) High School student walked onto the track and into Gause, who couldn’t stop in time to avoid the contact.
“I had to react very quickly, which meant I had to brace myself for the collision. My immediate reaction was not very sportsman like at all. I threw my arms in the air because I knew this random guy just cost me a first-place finish,” he wrote in an email to the Enquirer.
They learned very quickly the student had a disability, said Brandon Spaeth, Roger Bacon assistant athletic director. That student received immediate medical attention and Gause ended up not finishing the race to check on him.
“For a minute or two at the most, I was not thinking about who the ‘random guy’ was. After I had calmed down, I immediately went over to check on the young man to see if he was okay. He said he was okay but I know the impact hurt him,” Gause wrote. “I shook his hand because I didn’t want him to feel any worse than he already did. I then went to put on my Roger Bacon gear and walked back over to check on him a second time to give him a hug. I told him to stay strong and that I forgave him because the race became not as important after the collision.”
His composure and actions earned him a standing ovation and repeated praise from fans in the stands.
“What I saw last night was the coolest moment in my four years at Roger Bacon. First, I am very happy both students came out of the collision with no injuries. We constantly preach to our students to ‘do the right thing’ and Keith’s sportsmanship he demonstrated last night was a perfect example of that,” Spaeth said.
“Keith may have not won the race but he definitely won in a more important way last night. It was incredibly heartwarming to me to also see that his actions did not go unnoticed as after he went and checked on the student; the crowd stood up and gave him a well-deserved round of applause. I walked out of the stadium with Keith and his family and the amount of people in the stands that stopped him and applauded him for his actions was simply awesome.”
What makes his positive attitude and ability to compose himself more remarkable is that the meet started at 4 p.m. and this was one of the last races of the hours-long meet.
“Keith displayed the sportsmanship and composure in a difficult situation that we hope all student-athletes can embody,” Roger Bacon athletic director Steve Rossi said. “We are extremely proud of Keith and the team right now.”