Crown College head cross country coach Bill Braunger didn’t know why his No. 4 runner, Vicky Flores, came in so late in the St. Olaf College Invitational on Sept. 21 in Northfield.
“She explained the reason she didn’t finish in her normal spot was she saw another runner from another town alongside the course and stopped to help her,” Braunger said. “Awesome sportsmanship.”
“The runner I helped had just collapsed and was just laying there,” Flores said. “Another runner and I stopped to make sure she was OK and to get help.
“She had collapsed in the prairie part of the course, and there was no one but runners there, and only one other runner had stopped.”
Flores, a freshman from Le Sueur-Henderson, not only helped pick up a downed runner, she sacrificed time to help a competitor. She took 48th with a time of 29 minutes, 13 seconds over 6,000 meters (6.3 miles).
“I lost about 2 minutes, just quickly stopping by making sure she opened her eyes again and sat up and saw that help was on the way,” Flores said.
She normally runs in the 27-minute range.
“I would say my average would be around 27:00,” Flores said. “We don’t run much meets compared to high school.
“College cross country is definitely different than high school. We compete two times a month, whereas in high school we compete two times a week which gives a different training schedule. It’s also a 6k in college and a 5k in high school so it’s different when I see my time. I’m expecting to see somewhere around 21:00, but then I realize it’s a longer race.”
Jeff Christ, LS-H activities director and former head cross country and track and field coach, also praises Flores for her act of kindness and character.
“As far as her act of sportsmanship in her race.....it doesn’t surprise me at all,” Christ said. “That’s simply who Vicky is. As good of a runner and competitor she is, she is an even better person. In her years on the LS-H cross country and track teams Vicky was always unselfish and went out of her way to make sure her teammates felt valued and appreciated. She has always been a quiet and humble leader so for her to stop and help a fellow runner is what any of us who know her would expect.”
Flores said the season has gone very well for the women’s team. “We’ve been improving more and more as the season continues, my coach and I have also seen improvement in myself.”
The longtime No. 1 runner and captain for Le Sueur-Henderson girls cross country team, Flores was a four-time letter winner in cross country, five-time letter winner in track, a 2017 all-conference honorable mention in cross country, and a 2016 all-conference in cross country.
“Honestly coming into college I was hesitant of running competitively, but I decided to give it a try,” Flores said. “Best decision, I’ve learned that cross country is one big family. We are there to support and push each other and not just our team, other teams as well.”
Crown College is a Division III school in St. Bonifacius, near Waconia.