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Twin sisters have other's back during track meet

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:45 a.m. CDT
This Saturday, May 10, 2014 photo provided by Ted Crail shows Claire Gruenke, an eighth-grade student at Wesclin Junior High School in Trenton, carrying her twin sister, Chloe, to the finish line in the 800-meter run at the State Junior High Track Meet in Carterville. During the 800 meter run, Chloe fell to the ground with a muscle strain and was unable to get back on her feet. Claire carried her piggyback all the way to the finish line where they both crossed together. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Ted Crail)

CARTERVILLE (AP) — Twins Claire and Chloe Gruenke both finished last in their 800-meter race during the Illinois junior high track meet, but many consider the eighth-graders first in sportsmanship.

When Chloe fell to the ground with a muscle strain more than 350 meters from the finish during Saturday's state meet in Carterville, Claire carried her sister and classmate at Trenton's Wesclin Junior High on her back the rest of the way.

Claire said later the piggyback ride, first reported by WSIL-TV, was a no-brainer. Claire set Chloe down just before the finish as fans stood clapping, with Chloe recalling her sister wanted her to finish first. They instead crossed the finish line together.

"I was just proud that I was able to do that, but also happy that she was able to finish it," Claire told the Belleville News Democrat.

"They didn't win the race, but they won the hearts of everyone in the audience," added their coach, Ted Crail. "I've been coaching for 20 years. This was the first time I ever had tears in my eyes at one of the meets."

It's not the first time Claire, who earlier Saturday had won the mile run with a time of 5:23, has looked out for her sister. During the regional meet May 1 in Centralia, Crail said, Claire already had qualified to run the mile at state when she let Chloe finish second, just ahead of her, in the 800-meter race so both could compete at state in that event.

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