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Best Of 2019-20, Number 7: A Runner Goes Down, And Help Is Right There

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 11:54 AM

Here's story No. 7 on my list of favorites from the 2019-20 school year. It was originally published on Sept. 12.

Jordan Mlsna didn't hesitate, didn’t think twice about helping a fellow athlete who needed assistance. Jordan, a junior at St. Michael-Albertville, stopped running in the middle of a junior varsity cross-country race on Wednesday because someone from another team was in trouble.
A runner from Minnetonka collapsed during the Steve Hoag Invitational in Anoka. Jordan had been running near her and noticed that she was struggling. Jordan first saw the Minnetonka runner take a tumble in a puddle on the wet course and helped her get back on her feet. "I said, ‘Are you OK?’ She got back up and kept running. After that I noticed that she seemed to be having a hard time breathing and I said, ‘It’s OK, you’ve got this, we’re almost there.’ But she was breathing super fast, we got around a bend and she was wobbling.”

Jordan helped guide the runner to the side of the course and had her sit down. “She had been hyperventilating,” Jordan said. “I tried to calm her down. She passed out. I checked for a pulse, it was stable and kind of weak.”

By now an athletic trainer had arrived and took over care. The Minnetonka girl was wearing a heart monitor after having an issue in a previous race. Doctors had cleared her to run but had her wear the monitor in order to gather information about what was happening with her heart. Jordan never finished her race, staying put for 45 minutes or so while an ambulance was called. Other runners also offered assistance and several adults used their jackets to keep the runner warm.

Minnetonka coach Jane Reimer Morgan, learning that one of her runners was still out on the course, started looking for her athlete. Blue is a primary color for both Minnetonka and St. Michael-Albertville, and when Reimer Morgan first saw Jordan, “I thought it was one of my runners. I said to her, ‘What’s your name? You are so kind.’ ”

Later that evening, Jane received a surprise message. Jordan had tracked down the coach’s phone number and texted to see how the Minnetonka runner was doing.

St. Michael-Albertville coach Heather Strait wasn’t immediately aware of all this activity. She noticed that Jordan hadn’t finished the JV race, and someone told her Jordan had stopped to help someone who had gone down.

“That made sense because Jordan is somebody who would stop and help anybody,” Strait said. “She talked to me, we went on with the varsity race, we got on the bus.”

On Thursday, Strait learned much more about Jordan’s act of compassion and sportsmanship. She received an email from the Minnetonka runner’s mother, which read in part …

“As a nurse, and the mother of the child who collapsed, I can say without hesitation that her actions were heroic. Because she didn’t leave my daughter’s side, she was able to give an accurate account of events to both the athletic trainer on-site and the paramedics. Which then resulted in both cardiology and neurology having a clear picture as to what transpired. I feel that it is essential for you to know that her actions did not go unnoticed! She showed unbelievable sportsmanship and astonishing integrity towards a fellow athlete, and that deserves to be recognized! Please let her know that she is the definition of a true athlete! We wish her the very best in the rest of this season and throughout life!”

Jordan had never done anything like this before. “I didn’t think much about it, I was just worried about her,” she said.

Athletically, everything is new at St. Michael-Albertville this fall. The Knights, as well as athletes from Buffalo High School, are brand-new members of the Lake Conference, joining Minnetonka, Edina, Eden Prairie, Hopkins and Wayzata.

After the Knights practiced on Thursday, Strait asked Jordan to offer details from the previous day.

“She said the girl was struggling a little bit, and she felt like she wanted to stay with her and to make sure the girl was OK. Jordan is a very social, very caring girl. This didn’t surprise me at all.”

Strait read the mother’s letter to the entire team, using Jordan’s simple act as an example for everyone. Some of the girls on the team cried upon hearing the touching letter.

“We talked about how we’re kind of new to the Lake Conference and people may be looking at us a little differently,” she said. “We’re getting recognition for having some girls who are fast, but it’s more important to be recognized for character.”

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio

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