Jacob Vitt has a new job title these days.
"Secretary," he deadpanned Tuesday afternoon.
The West Liberty-Salem (West Liberty, Ohio)
athletic director said he had spent the entire day taking messages for the school's girls track and field coach Ann Vogel, mother of new national celebrity Meghan Vogel.
He wasn't complaining.
If you haven't heard or seen by now – it's gone ultra viral for good reason – junior Meghan Vogel picked up a fallen and weary 3,200-meter runner and dragged her across the finish line in Saturday's Ohio Division III state championship at Ohio State University.
Meghan had won the 1,600 earlier just over an hour earlier in the day – in a personal best time of 4 minutes, 58.31 seconds – and with no more to give she was just trying to finish the final 200 meters of the 3,200.
Turned out she had more to give than anyone imagined.
Arlington sophomore Arden McMath had cramped up and collapsed about 50 meters from the finish line and Vogel was the right person at the right time.
Vogel's spontaneous and ultimate act of sportsmanship earned a standing ovation at the stadium, moved many to tears and turned the junior blond into an almost immediate media darling.
In many cases, these media blitzes can be so contrived and sensationalized. But in this case, this 17-year-old - and her parents - are indeed worthy of widespread attention. It wasn't just her genuine and immediate display that was so refreshing. It was her emphatic surprise at the attention she received.
"It's been crazy," she told ESPN's Doug Binder
. "I can't understand why everyone wants to talk to me, but I guess I'm getting used to it now. It's strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like 'humanity.' It's weird. When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people's lives. I don't consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do."
Central Washington softball players Liz Wallace and Mallory Holtman had the same reaction after they were lauded for carrying an opponent around the bases in 2008.
Yes, they were appreciative of the global attention - they received an ESPN ESPY as well - but this wasn't a stand taken by Gandhi or a gesture from Mother Teresa or as Vogel said, a courageous act from Tubman, an African American humanitarian during the American Civil War. They were just playing ball and made a human reaction.
Just the same, we live in an awfully competitive world and sports feeds the spirited beast. Clearly, breaking five minutes in the 1,600 qualifies Vogel as competitive. But her ability to take a weary step back and see the greater good is a trait we evidently appreciate and admire.
Referencing Tubman is also more than a little impressive.
By Tuesday, Vitt said, his e-mail box was full and media requests came from every major outlet in the country. Meghan Vogel and McMath appeared on the Fox with Friends
morning show on Tuesday.
"It started slowly on Monday but today it had spread like wildfire," Vitt said. "Besides the media we just got random phone calls and e-mails from parents and general people telling us what a great thing it was. And it was. I understand (the attention)."
Vitt said he wasn't surprised that it was Vogel.
"She's just a very unselfish person," he said. "She's service oriented in everything she does. She's the president of the student body. She's the No. 1 runner on a cross-country team that finished sixth in the state. She's just a great person."
Meghan Vogel described the sequence of events to St. Louis (Mo.) television affiliate KSDK
this way: "I was coming around the turn and I had probably 100 meters left and she was 50 meters in front of me and I saw her fall. … I just didn't think twice about it. I knew I was going to pick her up and help her out. If you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish no matter who you are. I was going to make that happen for her no matter what."
Ann Vogel told the television station that her daughter's state title paled in comparison to her human display.
"As a parent, it just knocked my socks off with what she did and her compassion and the fact she was just so humble about it and didn't really think it was that big of a deal it really impressed me," Ann said.
And a nation as well. E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @mitchmashmax.