Runners sacrifice for fallen opponent. But they don’t mind

BOE member Sue Koukonas, Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney, Shania Daniel and Annie Harris. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)
BOE member Sue Koukonas, Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney, Shania Daniel and Annie Harris. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

It might have happened over a month ago, but Annie Harris and Shania Daniel still aren’t mad that their cross-country season ended without them finishing their last race.

In fact, they made the choice not to finish it. Instead, they helped out a fallen runner find emergency help. 

The two runners were about a mile in to their last race of the year at the Manhattan Invitational on Oct. 11 — the 2.5-mile varsity ‘F’ race that featured over 135 girls from across the state — when they saw a girl on the ground, clearly injured, with a few other runners around her.

“There was a crowd of people around her, just watching her,” said Annie. “She was having a seizure in the middle of the woods.”

At that point — while other runners continued to run and finish the race — the two acted quick and decided to split up. Shania went back to find the nearest spotter — monitors who direct runners where exactly the trail runs — while Annie went forward.

By the time they got back, the runner was already getting help from EMTs.

“No one was giving anyone CPR or anything like that, but it was just some kids doing the right thing. And doing it selflessly, which is nice,” said their coach, Justin Cobis. “They assessed the situation, made a plan and acted quickly on their feet.”

The runner, a girl from Clarence Central School District in Erie County, was hospitalized for a few days, though was released a few days later.

The school’s director of health, physical education and athletics, Greg Kaszubski, sent a letter to Riverhead athletic director Bill Groth last week, thanking those who stopped and helped the runner.

“Thanks to their quick action and empathy the Clarence runner received much needed quality care in a short period of time, giving her the best chance of recovery once she reached the hospital,” the letter stated. “She is on the road to recovery due in great part to the quick work of the five runners.”

In the end, Shania and Annie finished 132nd and 136th out of 138 students — about eight minutes behind the winner.

But winning the race ended up not being the most important thing that day.

“I didn’t mind,” Shania said. “We came in last, but it didn’t bother me because we did help someone.”