A Sportsman of the Year Candidate
At the Applejack Cross Country Invitational at Aronson Park in Lakeville, Minn., last week, Josh Ripley's Andover High teammates were wondering what happened to him.
They expected the 6-foot-5 junior to fare much better than his 211th-place showing. So afterward sophomore Simeon Toronto asked Riley why he had fallen behind.
Ripley's sheepish response? "Oh, I just picked up a kid."
Ripley is accustomed to overshadowing the opposition, but now the gentle giant's towering presence isn't just physical.
As Ripley ran in the pack in the 260-runner, five-kilometer race, he came upon a 100-pound freshman from another school — Mark Paulauskas of Lakeville South — stopped and in pain, bleeding heavily from a gash on his ankle.
"I had heard this scream, and as I rounded a corner, he came into view," Ripley said. "He was against a fence holding his ankle, and it was bleeding pretty badly ... I picked him up and ran with him in my arms."
Paulauskas had been inadvertently spiked by another runner, so Ripley assured him he'd be okay and hauled him about a quarter-mile to his coaches. Ripley then rejoined the race, in last place, and fought his way past nearly 50 competitors before finishing.
Paulauskas was taken to the emergency room, where he'd need 20 stitches to close the wound and given a walking boot to ensure against further complication.
"After I got cut, I just kind of fell," the freshman said. "It was around a 90-degree corner, and I was just trying to get out of the way of all the other runners. He just picked me up and ran with me. I think it's amazing ... He stopped his race just to help me."