A video sent to Eyewitness News may have just looked like any other cross country race, but there’s a special story behind the video.
Jake Pytel’s cross country season just ended. The student athlete didn’t win a single race, but he said in his most recent run he learned a lot about himself and his friends.
His sixth grade classmates at St. John Paul II Regional School in Middletown couldn’t say anything but nice things about Pytel.
His mom Katrina Pytel said she was stunned a few months back when her son asked to join the cross country team.
"He really wanted to do something that was outside his comfort zone,” Katrina Pytel said.
He didn’t do so well in his first two races, but his family and friends were proud that he still insisted on running the third and final race of the season.
"There was a lot of people that had more experience than I have so it was hard to keep up with them,” Jake Pytel said.
He struggled in the last meet too, but with half a mile left to go, something unexpected happened.
"I can't talk about it now without getting teary,” Katrina Pytel said.
Jake’s teammates, who had finished their race, came back to run with Jake.
“They were telling me to keep on going,” Jake Pytel said.
Jake and his teammates finished their race together.
Katrina Pytel said she believes Jake’s teammates should be role models for all of us.
"It’s just amazing that these young souls can do this for each other when we adults often can't,” Katrina Pytel said.
Jake himself has a simpler but just as powerful takeaway about the girls who helped him fight to the finish.
"I thought I had really good friends,” Jake said.
Jake finished with his most impressive time of the season, and he said he plans to continue running cross country next year.
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