The Incredible Sportsmanship Of A New Mexico Runner

* Replay of the Class 5A finish from New Mexico; Triston Charles (right) edged Jerrick Maldonado (left)

- - - 

Life is made up of decisions. And it's in those decisions, ultimately, that we are often defined by the choices we make. 

On Nov. 9, a mistake gave Clovis High School junior Jerrick Maldonado a state championship he knew he didn't win (see video). 

And by the time he realized this -- through a series of coincidental events, including a teammate standing in his place on the podium as he was receiving medical treatment -- he was on the bus with his teammates and on the road back to his high school, many miles away from the New Mexico Cross Country State Championships in Rio Rancho.

But two days later, as the Albuquerque Journal first reported, Maldonado made a decision he knew in his heart he had to make.

After speaking with his coach, Maldonado decided he needed to forfeit his winning medal to honor the true winner of the Class 5A race, Piedra Vista senior Triston Charles

After watching tape of his finish, he decided to notify the New Mexico Athletic Association. 

"He said, 'Coach, I'm not comfortable. I think Triston beat me.' I said, it looked like that to me also," Clovis coach Mark Bussen told The Albuquerque Journal of his conversation with his runner. "And he said, 'I think I should have a second-place medal.' "

As a result, Charles will be presented with the medal in December along with a ceremony. By then,  he will be declared the true winner of the race, with Maldonado earning his silver medal. 

But the story isn't over. 

The NMAA was so moved by Maldonado's choice that they awarded him a Compete With Class scholarship worth $1,000. Only eight are handed out each year in the state. 

"It really is an act of sportsmanship beyond measure," NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez told the ABJ. "It's the most 'Compete With Class' thing that has happened."

And there's this, too. 

Maldonado, who now has finished 36th, fourth and second at the state championships over his high school career, has one more year left to officially win his first true state title. 

Related Links: