Like so many student athletes, Davis County High School's Zach Hougland has dreams of being the best. Those dreams were literally his just a few weeks ago when Zach finished first across the finish line, earning the 17-year-old high school senior the title at the district cross country championship.
"I thought it was phenomenal," he told WHO TV. Everyone giving high fives and right when I crossed the finish line I couldn't help but cry."
But Hougland's thoughts quickly turned from victory to concern when he saw another runner lying unconscious in the field.
"He saw this runner on the ground unconscious and it seemed he wasn't getting the medical attention he needed," said Davis County Cross Country coach Josh Husted in an interview with WHO TV.
Hougland returned to the field to help fallen runner Garrett Hinson. "It was about 15 meters from the finish line," he recounted to WHO TV. "I did it for seven meters, so he had about eight left. I knew I couldn't help him finish, so I just gave him a push and told him you can do it."
That act of sportsmanship and humility cost him the championship: he was disqualified for helping a competitor.
"NFHS rules do not allow a competitor to receive or give assistance from or to another competitor during a race," Iowa High School Athletic Association Assistant Director Jared Chizek told ABC News. "If a competitor receives or gives assistance, that competitor is disqualified from the event."
Many are expressing disappointment, but even more are praising Hougland.
And like all true champions, Zach Hougland remains steadfast.
"I didn't want anyone to see me break down because I couldn't take it, all that work for nothing," he told WHO TV. "But If I could do it all again I wouldn't change a thing because I did what I thought was right,"