A small act of faith disqualified a Texas high school track team from advancing to the state championships. Despite finishing first in a relay race at their school track meet on the 4th of May in Columbus, Texas, the Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals were revoked of their win and disqualified from the next competition after the anchor runner touched his ear and pointed to the sky.

Runner Derrick Hayes made that gesture as he crossed the finish line in the 4 x 100-meter relay, local news channel KHOU 11 News reports. Hayes’ father, KC, said that he believed his son was giving thanks to God.

“You cross a finish line and you’ve accomplished a goal and within seconds it’s gone. To see four kids, you know, what does that tell them about the rest of their lives? You’re going to do what’s right, work extra hard, and have it ripped away from you?” KC Hayes told KHOU 11.

Columbus ISD Superintendent Robert O’Connor said the team had won the race by seven yards and that it was their fastest race of the year, but according to state rules the decision cannot be appealed. Now, some of the residents in Columbus are blaming the school of infringing on the runner’s freedom of religious expression.

State scholastic rules prohibit excessive celebrations, including raising one’s hands, according to runnersworld.com.

Those rules are the reason for the disqualification, the judges say.


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