After finishing first in a relay race at a high school track meet last weekend in Columbus, Texas, the Columbus High School Mighty Cardinals were disqualified due to a gesture that the anchor runner made as he crossed the finish line.
KHOU 11 reported that runner Derrick Hayes pointed to the sky as he crossed the finish line in the 4 x 100-meter relay. Hayes' father, KC, told KHOU 11 that he believed his son was giving thanks to God.
According to runnersworld.com, state scholastic rules prohibit excessive celebrations which includes raising one's hands.
"You cross a finish line and you’ve accomplished a goal and within seconds it’s gone," KC Hayes said, per keyetv.com. “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?”
The win would have given the Cardinals a chance to advance to the state championships, per KHOU 11.
UPDATE: The University Interscholastic League of Texas conducted an investigation and ruled that religion did not play a role in the disqualification, Yahoo! Sports reports.
"The headlines are suggesting the man was disqualified because of an act of faith," deputy director of the UIL Jamey Harrison told Yahoo! Sports. "That is inaccurate."