Cross-Country Coach’s Voice Goes Viral

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Penn State Behrend cross-country coach, Greg Cooper, found himself (or at least his voice) part of a stunning video that went viral this week. The video, shot at the DIII Mid-East Regional Championships at DeSales University where Behrend’s men’s XC team were competing last week, depicts Justin DeLuzio from Gwynedd-Mercy College taking a severe hit from a whitetail deer mid-race.

Coach Cooper can be heard on the video yelling “Watch out for the deer!”  Cooper said that when he yelled, most of the runners looked up and heeded his warning, save for Justin who kept his head own and ended up a five rows into the cornfield next to him.

Watch it here: http://www.yourerie.com/sports/sports/behrend-cross-country-tied-to-viral-video

Ouch!

Cooper, who ran to DeLuzio after the collision, said the runner looked disoriented and stunned, but continued the race. Reports say he suffered no major injuries.

It’s not the first time runners have had to dodge deer on the XC course.  Cooper said it happened a few times when he was a college runner.

Only in Pennsylvania….

(OK, and probably Ohio and other rural areas, too, but at least it wasn’t a bear, right?)

Athletics to host cool 5K fun run (ice cream is involved!)

Ice Cream Run TV

By Heather Cass

Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Some people run for fun. Some people run for fitness. Some people run to spend time with friends.

What would you run for?

How about free Berkey Creamery ice cream (and a cool T-shirt, too)?

Ah…now there’s a tempting reason and sweet reward for running (or walking) the Penn State Behrend Athletics first Ice Cream Run on Friday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Not up for 3.1 miles? There’s also a Family Fun 1-Mile Walk.

The races start and finish in the Junker Center parking lot, near the new soccer complex. The course is on all paved paths through campus and Coach Greg Cooper (cross-country and track) was merciful when he designed the course as it goes up first, then is mostly flat or downhill. Course map here (also posted below).

Race registration is $25 and includes a long-sleeve shirt and free Berkey’s Creamery ice cream when you finish the race. Register here (online registration only). By the way, this is a family-friendly event – there’s a $5 discount for every additional family member you register.

Four legged friends are even welcome to run with you, too, but they must be leashed and under control at all times.

This is a fun run, so there will not be a timer or awards.

All proceeds benefit Behrend Athletics! For more information call 814-898-6240.

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Left-hander Jack Herzing gives baseball team boost during sophomore season

Jack Herzing

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

One by one, Jack Herzing sent them down. Between the left-hander’s strong fastball and biting curveball, Penn State Altoona hitters found themselves helpless at the plate.

When the April 6th game had finished, the Penn State Behrend pitcher had struck out 16 batters, tying the school record set in 2001 by Troy Williams.

His source of motivation that day came from an unexpected place — fear.

“In the back of my head, there was just this fear of getting rocked. It’s happened to me before, and it’s a very bad feeling when you’re up there getting hit around, and I was really motivated to get out there and help our team win,” Herzing said.

The Lions did win the game, defeating Penn State Altoona 4-1 in the AMCC contest. Herzing’s strong performance earned him recognition as Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, but it was just a snapshot of what’s become a breakout sophomore season for the St. Marys native.

Overall, Herzing is 7-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 44 1/3 innings of work and leads the team with 58 strikeouts while averaging 11.69 strikeouts per game. His success has given a huge boost to the Lions, which own a 23-10-1 record and begin play in the AMCC Championship Tournament on Friday, but the seeds to Herzing’s 2015 breakout had been planted at the end of last year.

While he showed glimpses of his talent during his first year as a collegiate player, Herzing says he felt a need for improvement.

“After my freshman season, I really wasn’t pleased with how I performed,” the project and supply chain management major says. “The day after I came home (from college), I started a new lifting routine to get myself ready for the next season.”

The extra time in the gym has paid dividends for Herzing, who is penciled in to start the Lions’ first game   of the AMCC Championship Tournament against Mount Aloysius.

“Herz has been big time for us this spring,” says Behrend head coach Paul Benim. “Our assistant coach Jay Condit has done a tremendous job of helping Herz evolve, simplifying his process. Herz has really focused, stepped up and elevated his performance, especially after the team lost three senior pitchers from last year’s ECAC Championship team.”

Perhaps no one is more familiar with Herzing’s mentality on the mound than teammate Brian Bohman, who has caught every one of his games this season. As a catcher, Bohman is often charged with keeping Herzing calm, even when things turn sour.

“Jack is that bulldog out there,” Bohman, a sophomore history major, says. “He wants to go 110 miles all the time, but sometimes you have to slow him down, say a little joke and get on with it. We work really well together.”

Herzing credits Bohman with much of his success.

“They say it’s 50-50 catchers and pitchers, but it’s really 60-40 catchers, if not more,” he says. “Bohman has been so great this year. He studies the batters. He knows where we should throw it, and I just throw it where he wants me to. He deserves most of the credit.”

While he’s clearly very serious with regard to baseball, there is another side to Herzing, and Hunter Hux will attest to that. As the only left-handed pitchers on the team, Herzing and Hux immediately developed a bond, but it goes beyond baseball.

“We’re the two goofiest kids on the team. We’re always laughing and cracking jokes,” Hux says. “We saw this one story online called ‘17 Reasons That You and Your Best Friend Are Joey and Chandler,’ and we started crying laughing afterwards because it described us perfectly.”

Hux is one of Herzing’s greatest supporters, and he has high hopes for his friend’s future. Last year, former Behrend pitcher Chad Zurat signed a professional contract with the Colorado Rockies organization.

That leaves big shoes for any Behrend pitcher to fill, but Hux says Herzing could be the guy to do it.

“If anyone on this team has the potential to do that, it’s Jack,” Hux says. “If he just develops a third pitch, there is no ceiling for him. And if Jack decides he wants to do it, I think he will.”

Follow Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

A flyer for Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey hangs from the fridge at the Harborcreek home of the Perritano family. Sixteen-year-old Emma Perritano’s face lights up whenever she catches a glimpse of it.

So far, she is enjoying the journey, eagerly waving her hands when they pass someone on the street. All the while, humming her favorite songs, a collection of tunes from Wicked, Disney movies and some old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Her parents, Penn State Behrend men’s soccer coach Dan Perritano and college registrar Jane Brady, said it’s exactly what they hoped for.

“I wanted to take Emma and do something special,” Dan Perritano said. “While she doesn’t understand what we’re doing completely, she points to that flyer now, and she knows we’re doing something special.”

What they’re doing is a 360-mile trek across Pennsylvania’s historic Route 6 to help raise funds for the Arc of Erie County. Emma is a non-verbal life skills student at North East Middle School and has benefitted from the Arc, which provides advocacy and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Dan is pushing Emma in her Team Hoyt running chair, a custom-built chair designed for physically-challenged individuals that was purchased through grants from ACHIEVA and Billy’s Friends Foundation, two non-profit organizations for persons with disabilities. The two have already begun checking off some of the western miles on Route 6 during weekend outings.

The duo hopes to finish at least 100 miles before setting out on May 18 to finish the trip.

“Once we get on the road, we aren’t coming back,” said Perritano, who will use the MapMyWalk app to track completed miles.

Perritano said the two average about 15-minute miles when moving consistently, and he hopes to do between 15 to 20 miles per day.

“The plan is to do 10 or 11 miles in the morning, have lunch and then do maybe another 10 in the afternoon,” he said.

Perritano said they won’t carry many supplies and will mostly rely on purchasing things on the go.

However, if supplies get too low, Perritano does have a lifeline.

“I can’t imagine them going three of four days without me coming to the rescue,” Brady said.

Perritano plans to finish the journey on May 30, but knows challenges could arise. Hazardous weather could cause a delay, so he said the completion date is tentative.

“It’s going to be so rewarding,” Perritano said. “It’s something special that we will always remember.”

To learn more about the Arc or how you can contribute to Emma and Dan’s Journey, please visit their website at thearcoferie.org or contact Arc president Dr. Karen Morahan at kmorahan@edinboro.edu or Dan Perritano at dpp2@psu.edu.

Follow Emma and Dan’s Journey on their Facebook page.

Behrend alumnus Chad Zurat fulfills dream in Colorado Rockies organization

Zurat, Chad (Dust Devils)By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Chad Zurat ’14 sat nervously, his eyes and ears glued to the television. The former Penn State Behrend standout pitcher waited anxiously with hopes of hearing his name called in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.

Day one went by, and nothing.

Day two followed.

Then came day three.

A total of 1,215 baseball players were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft from June 5 to 7.

Zurat was not one of them.

After waiting helplessly for three days, he would now have to wait some more.

“I was hanging on a limb, I guess you could say. After a month, your hopes kind of waver a bit, and it’s hard to keep thinking it’s definitely going to happen,” says Zurat, of Clearfield, Pa., who compiled a 2.54 earned-run average while going 8-2 in his senior season with the Lions.

When the call came, Zurat says he was shocked and speechless.

He was at his accounting internship at Little Pine Resources in Clearfield on July 11 when he received a phone call. He was surprised to get a phone call during work but was even more surprised when he heard the voice on the other end of the line — Colorado Rockies scout Ed Santa.

“He introduces himself and says, ‘Well, we have an opening on our team, are you still interested?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course I am,’” Zurat recalls. “After five minutes, he calls back, and says, ‘Congratulations Chad, you’re a member of the Colorado Rockies organization.’”

It couldn’t have been a better home for Zurat, who says he became a fan while watching the team win 21 of 22 games in September 2007 en route to their first World Series appearance.

Within 12 hours, Zurat was on a flight to Pasco, Washington, where he would join the Tri City Dust Devils, the Short-Season Single-A farm team of the Rockies. He moved in with a host family, Dan and Chrissy Charron and their two sons, 12-year-old Daniel and 10-year-old Andrew.

Some might find the experience overwhelming, but Zurat was on cloud nine.

“I was so excited that I didn’t care at all. I was just ready to get on that plane and get out there on the baseball field,” he says.

He got his wish soon.

On July 13, just two days after that initial phone call from Santa, Zurat made his professional baseball debut against the Spokane Indians. In three innings of work, he allowed four runs (three earned), seven hits and struck out three batters.

“In my very first outing, I could tell that the talent was a decent step up from what I was used to,” Zurat says. “They take advantage of mistakes at this level. If you leave a curveball up in the zone or leave a fastball in the middle of the plate, you’re going to be snapping your head back and watching the ball go to the fence.”

Zurat would make adjustments and his performances improved. In his last three outings, he compiled a 3.60 earned-run average, walked zero batters and struck out six.

Penn State Behrend baseball coach Paul Benim coached Zurat for four years and believes the best is yet to come.

“Chad’s a great kid and a tremendous teammate. He never let his own head get in the way,” Benim says. “He just kept working, and he kept getting better. I think he’s only going to get better as he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his arm and never threw a lot of innings.”

Zurat’s next chance to impress the Rockies organization will come in February when he heads to Scottsdale, Arizona, for spring training. It will be the first time that he will have an opportunity to meet and play with some of the Rockies current stars, including shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

Zurat is going to try to remain professional, but says it will be a challenge.

“I haven’t met them yet, and the day I do, I will speechless right off the bat,” he says. “The fan is going to come out at first just because I’ve watched these guys play for the last seven years and they’re my favorite players. I have to work with them though, so there does still have to be a little bit of professionalism.”

In preparation for spring training, Zurat will begin a new lifting and running program this week. He will then start throwing again in December.

Until then, Zurat will be back working for Little Pine Resources doing contracted work. As an accounting graduate, Zurat has a nice Plan B should a professional baseball career not pan out.

He’s going to relish this opportunity while it lasts though.

“When I go to work, I look at a baseball field. I’m not looking at a cubicle all day. I get to come and play baseball. That’s all I need. It’s so much fun,” Zurat says.

Quick Hits with Chad Zurat

Family: Tom and Kristen Zurat (parents); Chelsea Brincka (sister)

Pitch repertoire: “Fastball, curve, change. I added the changeup this summer. I had been working on one, but I couldn’t get it to work. Our pitching coach worked with us a bit, and I finally found a grip that I could feel comfortable with, and it was a good pitch for me at the end of year.”

Thoughts on living with a host family: “They were just excellent people. I really enjoyed hanging out with their sons too. They were always fun to be around during the day when we didn’t have to be at the field.”

Why did you come to Behrend: “I didn’t even look at baseball for college. I was actually a basketball player. I came to Behrend because I initially wanted to pursue engineering, and I knew a lot of people from my high school were coming to Behrend. I emailed Coach Benim and asked if I could walk on. ”

Thoughts on Penn State Behrend baseball program: “It played a huge role in getting me to where I am now. Coach Benim did everything in his power to help me out, and he does everything in his power to help out any player he’s ever coached. I wasn’t even going to play baseball in college, but he gave me a chance. I can’t credit him enough.”

Coach Benim on the Rockies signing Zurat: “He was evaluated by 12 clubs, and I’m really happy that the Rockies gave him a chance. (Rockies scout) Ed Santa was here the day that Chad struck out 15 of the 21 batters he faced against Pitt-Bradford. His fastball sat at 93 miles per hour and touched 94 miles per hour, so he made quite the impression.”

Student earns wings

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Miranda Boatman took a deep breath as she boarded the Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft. After two-plus weeks of training, the time had finally come.

Within minutes, the Penn State Behrend junior childhood and early adolescent education major would be more than 1,200 feet above ground. Then she would jump from the aircarft and fall at speeds exceeding 130 miles an hour.

“Once we’re in that plane, and they open that door, that’s when it gets real,” said Boatman. “There’s only one way down.”

The Bellefonte, Pennsylvania native spent three weeks this summer completing the Army’s Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. The course is better recognized by its nickname — Jump School.

“They teach you how to do a PLF — parachute landing fall,” said Boatman, a member of The Pride of Pennsylvania ROTC Battalion (which includes students from Penn State Behrend, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University). “For me, it wasn’t as bad because I’m smaller, so I hit the grounder lighter.”

The training schedule that leads to the completion of an airborne jump is significant. It’s broken down into three weeklong intervals: ground week, tower week, and jump week.

Once the training has been completed, participants are expected to be able to execute jumps, deploy parachutes, land safely, pack swiftly, and move to a designated rally point.

Boatman said the training could be tedious at times, especially during ground week, but it’s a tried-and-true process.

“With ground week, you start on a (34-foot) platform and start swinging back and forth. They say they’ve been teaching these same methods for over twenty years, and it obviously works,” Boatman said.

During week two, participants practice jumps from 250-foot towers. The week is devoted to teaching all of the different phases of parachute flight.

The training process is far from easy. According to Boatman, more than 150 participants in her training group were dropped from the training because their jumps were not proficient during weeks one and two.

Those who made it to week three were in for some real, high-flying fun.

Boatman made a total of five jumps from the aircraft, including a night jump that proved to be the highlight of her experience.

“After you hit the ground on that jump, you knew you were getting your wings, so that was pretty great,” she said. “Everyone’s adrenaline was going after that jump, and everyone had their own little story about it.”

Boatman’s success in jumping should not come as a surprise. It’s in her blood.

Her father, John Boatman, completed the same training years earlier before serving in the National Guard. He was on hand for his daughter’s jumps and presented her with her airborne jump wings on the final day of the training.

Boatman plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the National Guard after her graduation in 2015. She’s thankful for the experiences ROTC has given her, especially her unique “summer school” venture.

“I just had such a great summer,” she said. “ROTC has provided me with so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I wouldn’t have been able to jump out of a plane. That’s just not something a normal college kid gets to do.”

Training + concentration = Impressive Boston Time for Math Prof

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By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Divide three hours, four minutes and thirty seconds by 26.2 and you’ll get the pace of the fastest mathematics professor at Penn State Behrend.

Dr. Antonio Mastroberardino, assistant professor of mathematics, completed the 2014 Boston Marathon last Monday with an impressive average 7.02 minute per mile pace.

But, that wasn’t even his best! Mastroberardino, 39, qualified for the 2014 Boston marathon at the Rochester marathon in September of 2012 with a finish time of 2:58:34, a full 12 minutes under the 3:10 qualifying time he needed.

We caught up with Mastroberardino (which wasn’t easy…he’s quite fast, you know) and talked him into answering a few question about his race through bean town.

What was your finish time at Boston?

3:04:30. The Erie Times-News had an incorrect time of 3:06:24.

Were you happy with that?

I was pleased with the result.

Have you run Boston before?

No, this was my 3rd marathon. Rochester 2012 was my first. Erie 2013 was my second. I hit the proverbial wall in Erie and ran a disappointing 3:14:07.

What was it like to be/run Boston in this emotional year?

It was an amazing day for the city of Boston. From the start in Hopkinton to the finish in Back Bay and through all of the towns in between, the atmosphere was electric. The most amazing part was turning onto Boylston St. with the finish line in sight and having a roaring crowd carry you to the end.

Was your family there?

No, but my mom mentioned that my aunt in Italy was very happy for me.

Were you worried about anything happening?

No, not at all.

What is going through your mind as you run a marathon? What do you think about?

The first thing to do is to establish the right pace in the first 5-6 miles. People often go out too fast, and this could cost you several minutes in the end if you have to slow down to a walking pace in the last part of the race. This happened to me in Erie in 2013. For the miles in between, a friend of mine with a lot of experience told me: You need to be bored at mile 15; otherwise, you are working too hard and are in danger of hitting the wall later in the race.

What is your strategy for dealing with the tough miles (a mantra, doing math problems to distract yourself, etc.)?

The last 5-6 miles require total concentration. At that point, your legs are crying for you to stop, but you have to simply fight the strong desire to give in to your body’s demand of slowing down. In a race like Boston, the crowd support definitely makes a difference.

Where do you train?

This winter, I trained everywhere. I used the treadmill at my apartment complex, the treadmill and the indoor track at LECOM, the treadmill and the indoor track at Junker, the Behrend outdoor track, Veteran’s Stadium, Mercyhurst soccer field, the streets around the Gannon campus, Presque Isle trail, and various other places whenever I traveled out of town.

How many days/miles a week do you run?

I started from 30/week back in December and got up to the low 50’s during the last week of March.

Where is your favorite place to run locally?

I like running at Presque Isle, although I don’t go there that often to run. I actually prefer to ride the bike if I go to the peninsula.

Do you train alone or with friends?

I train alone.

Do you listen to music?

No music. Just the sound of nature.

Favorite running shoes?

I choose shoes that fit the best. I wore Adidas for this marathon and had a pair of Saucony before that. I purchased both pairs from Achille’s Running Shop in Erie.

Why do you enjoy running marathons?

It is a great challenge not only to complete one but also to train for one. And I guess I enjoy the challenge.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I played football in high school and in college. In college I played Sprint Football—a varsity sport with a weight limit that has ranged from 150 lbs. in the early years of the league to the current limit of 175 lbs. There are currently eight teams in the Collegiate Sprint Football League, including the Army and Navy teams.

What do you like to do (besides run) in your free time?

I play the violin, although I am not very good. I play in a community orchestra called YADO (Young Artist Debut Orchestra) conducted by Frank Collura. We have a performance in December and one in May every year.

Next race? What are you training for now?

I will run a half marathon in Buffalo at the end of May.

Any other memories from Boston you want to share?

As we walked from the Athletes’ village to the start (just over a kilometer) in Hopkinton, a man standing outside his home was offering everyone donuts, beer, and cigarettes. I passed on the offer.