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Five Selected for Induction into Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame

Five Selected for Induction into Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame

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The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is proud to announce the seventh class to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. This year's class, which will be inducted on April 12 at the Pitt-Johnstown Living-Learning Center, will include: Eric Dinyar '97 (Baseball), Barry Gresh '80 (Wrestling), Ken Keiper 1971-97 (Baseball Coach), Emmanuel "Book" Richardson '98 (Men's Basketball), and Lenore Shimkus-Schell '84 (Women's Basketball). Pitt-Johnstown will also recognize all of the former student-athletes in attendance, including the 1996-97 men's basketball team for earning the program's first NCAA Division II Regional berth.

This special event was created in 2007 to honor prestigious groups of athletes, coaches, and university supporters and their champion spirits. These individuals merit distinction for their accomplishments and leadership in athletic endeavors for Pitt-Johnstown.

Speaking at this year's event will be Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar, Athletic Director and National Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach Pat Pecora, as well as student-athlete and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President Kelsey Shanabrook. Longtime Johnstown Tribune-Democrat sports writer and Pitt-Johnstown alumnus Mike Mastovich will serve as the event's Master of Ceremonies.

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame — Eric Dinyar
Baseball – 1991-1994, 1997

Eric DinyarSometimes being in the right place at the right time means everything. That's the case with baseball standout Mr. Eric Dinyar. Mr. Dinyar, one of the most talented right-handed pitchers coming out of the Greater Johnstown Area in the early 1990s, used a school-record 15-strikeout performance against nationally-ranked Edinboro University to catch the eye of a scout who came to the game to watch the Fighting Scots' starting pitcher. As it turned out, Mr. Dinyar was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft.

After a standout career at Greater Johnstown High School, Mr. Dinyar brought his talents to Pitt-Johnstown in the fall of 1991 to play for Head Coach Ken Keiper. However, it was a slow start to Mr. Dinyar's collegiate career. Due to inclement weather, the Mountain Cats' 40-game schedule was reduced to fewer than 20 games, and Mr. Dinyar finished with a 2-2 record.

As a sophomore, weather again erased many of the scheduled games. Mr. Dinyar, who doubled as a first baseman when he wasn't pitching, posted a 3-3 record with 37 strikeouts in 47 innings in both the fall and spring combined. Offensively, he hit over .300 with four homeruns and 12 RBI on his way to garnering the Pitt-Johnstown Underclassman Athlete of the Year Award from the Johnstown Chapter of the Pitt Golden Panthers.

It was his junior season in 1994 when Mr. Dinyar made his mark. Along with hitting .315 with four homeruns, Mr. Dinyar closed out the season on the mound with a 5-3 record and 55 strikeouts in 49 innings, including a 13-strikout effort to defeat Indiana University (PA).  Mr. Dinyar's 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings ranked among the Top-15 in the country.

However, one game stood out that season. On May 4, Mr. Dinyar faced Edinboro, which was ranked nationally in the Top-5, and Pete Nyari, one of the top pitchers in the country.  Mr. Dinyar went out and struck out 15 Edinboro hitters to break fellow Hall of Famer Dave Hoff's previous record of 13 set in 1981 on his way to guiding the Mountain Cats to a 3-2 victory and catching the eye of the scout in attendance to watch Nyari.

Following that effort, Mr. Dinyar was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 48th round of the June 1994 Major League Baseball Draft.

He began his professional career as a relief pitcher for the Class A Jamestown (NY) Jammers that summer and was 5-1 with 30 strikeouts. The next year, he was promoted to the Fayetteville (NC) Generals and finished with a 2.49 ERA and 71 strikeouts.

In 1996, Mr. Dinyar was named the Most Improved Minor League Player in spring training. He was promoted to the Tigers' High A affiliate Lakeland (FL) Tigers of the Florida State League where he set the team record with 27 saves, before injuries ended his professional career at the end of the season.

Mr. Dinyar returned home and graduated Cum Laude from Pitt-Johnstown in 1997 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. He is employed in Johnstown by North American Hoganas, the leading manufacturer of stainless steel powders in North America, as a supervisor of 400 series stainless steel production.

Mr. Dinyar, who is still active in coaching youth baseball, soccer, and basketball, and his wife Sherri, have two children, Chase and Colin.  The Dinyar's reside in Davidsville.

"To be nominated and selected to the Pitt-Johnstown hall of fame is a great honor," Mr. Dinyar said. "Many great athletes and coaches have been elected, and to be among them is truly a blessing. If it were not for my coach and mentor, Ken Keiper, I certainly would not have been able to excel to the level of these other great athletes and coaches. His personal guidance and the quality academics at Pitt-Johnstown have given me the abilities to be a better son, husband, and father."

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame — Barry Gresh
Wrestling – 1977-1980

Barry GreshWhen Mr. Barry Gresh brought his wrestling talents to Pitt-Johnstown from just up the road in Ebensburg prior to the 1976-77 season, little did he know that he would end up being one of the cornerstones that helped build the Mountain Cat program into what it has become today. Mr. Gresh, a three-time All-American, became Pitt-Johnstown's first NCAA wrestling All-American in 1979 and began a tradition that has helped develop Pitt-Johnstown into one of the top Division II wrestling programs in the country.

In 1979, Mr. Gresh became Pitt-Johnstown's first NCAA All-American with a fifth-place showing on his way to leading the Mountain Cats to a second straight winning season and a sixth-place showing at the East Regional Tournament under Head Coach Pat Pecora.

That was just the start of things for Mr. Gresh and the Pitt-Johnstown wrestling program. The following season Mr. Gresh placed seventh at the NCAA Tournament to help Pitt-Johnstown post its first-ever Top-20 national finish. He then became the Mountain Cats' first three-time All-American by placing fifth at the NAIA National Tournament.

In 1980, Mr. Gresh earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business and Economics from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He returned home to Ebensburg and continued to work on the family's dairy farm until 1984 when he accepted a position in Lewistown as a loan officer for Northeastern Farm Credit Association. Mr. Gresh advanced in the financial sector where he became regional manager for Allied Financial Products.

Because of business consolidation, Mr. Gresh was going to have to relocate. Instead of relocating and moving his family, he decided to go back to school to become a teacher and coach. He earned a Social Studies Teaching Certificate at Saint Francis University. In 1990, Mr. Gresh was hired by the Central Cambria School District as a social studies teacher, a position he still holds today. He continued his educational pursuits and received a Master's in Education from St. Francis University in 1995.

Mr. Gresh, a PIAA State Champion wrestler and a member of the Bishop Carroll High School Athletic Hall of Fame, has also been Central Cambria's junior and senior high head wrestling coach for 14 seasons. In addition, Mr. Gresh has also enjoyed coaching youth t-ball, baseball, soccer, and football.

Mr. Gresh and his wife Debra, have four children, Brian and Megan Gresh and Zak and Ben Koval.  Barry and Debra reside in Revloc, Pa.

"I am deeply honored to receive this award," Mr. Gresh said. "I have to attribute a lot of my success at Pitt-Johnstown to an extremely talented young coach named Pat Pecora. Coach Pecora knows how to push you to your limits, but also knows how to put a smile on your face."

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame — Ken Keiper
Baseball Coach – 1971-1997

Ken KeiperFrom 1971 through 1997 as the head coach of the Pitt-Johnstown baseball program, Mr. Ken Keiper accumulated 336 victories, spearheaded the drive to build an on-campus baseball facility, and tutored many outstanding players, including several who turned professional following their collegiate playing days.

In 1971, Mr. Keiper became the second head baseball coach in the program's history and posted an impressive 182-152-2 record from that initial season through the 1983 season. When he retired in 1997, Mr. Keiper closed out his career with a 336-432-5 overall record.

Mr. Keiper, who also served several decades as Pitt-Johnstown's intramural director, had several players go on to play professionally, including Ted Baird, Eric Dinyar, and Dave Hoff. In addition, former players Mike Gresik, Paul Leonard, and Hoff are currently members of the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame, while Dinyar will be inducted this year along side his former coach.

Along with the on-field work, Mr. Kepier was appointed to the Division II Baseball National Committee in 1989 and chaired the North Atlantic Region, which consisted of schools from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The following year, Mr. Keiper was named chairman of the 146-school NCAA Division II Baseball Committee, where he served as chairman for six seasons. During this time, Mr. Keiper was instrumental in establishing the National Tournament in Montgomery, Ala. For his efforts in Montgomery, former Alabama Governor Robert James made Mr. Keiper an honorary colonel in the Alabama National Guard.

Mr. Keiper also led a 15-year drive to build an on-campus baseball field after the original field was lost due to campus housing expansion in 1978. For those years, the Mountain Cats were forced to both practice and play at a handful of off-campus locations. Mr. Keiper's efforts paid off, because on October 3, 1993, Pitt-Johnstown's George R. Walter Field became a reality.

Mr. Keiper also made his name in the community as both a player and a manager in the Johnstown Junior League. Mr. Keiper played in Johnstown's first National All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) Tournament in 1945, before managing teams for 13 seasons, where he won six league championships. In 1956, Mr. Keiper's status rose even more as he led his Hahn Packing Company team to a National Runner-up finish in the AAABA Tournament.

Mr. Keiper and his wife, Lois, reside in Bolivar. The Keiper's have three grown children Deborah, Bill, and Keith, and eight grandchildren.

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame — Emmanuel "Book" Richardson
Men's Basketball - 1996-1998

Emanuel RichardsonIt's been said many times that it is better to give than to receive. In just two seasons, Mr. Emanuel "Book" Richardson, who currently serves as an assistant coach under Sean Miller at the University of Arizona, took that to heart on the basketball court on his way to setting the Pitt-Johnstown career assist record, leading NCAA Division II in assists per game in 1996-97, and guiding the Mountain Cat program to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances.

A native of the Bronx, NY, Mr. Richardson joined Head Coach Bob Rukavina's Mountain Cat squad for the 1996-97 season after spending two years at his hometown Monroe College. In that magical season, Mr. Richardson's great passing and ball-handling skills led Pitt-Johnstown to its first NCAA Regional Tournament appearance. In the process, his 8.7 assists per game led the nation.

Mr. Richardson kept it up the following season. He dished out a school-record 260 assists, including 17 against Edinboro University on February 15, 1998, a record that still stands today, and helped the Mountain Cats to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth with a program-best 24 victories.

In his two seasons at Pitt-Johnstown, Mr. Richardson guided the Mountain Cats to a 55-11 overall record (.883 winning percentage) and a pair of post-season appearances. When it was all said and done, Mr. Richardson's 495 assists stood atop of the Mountain Cat record books until 2009. He still holds program records for career assist average (8.8 apg.), assists in a season (260), and assists in a game (17).  He is currently third on the all-time assists list.

After graduating with a degree in Business Marketing and Management in 1998, he began his coaching career as an assistant under Coach Rukavina for the 1998-99 season. From there, Mr. Richardson's coaching career began to take off.

Mr. Richardson then spent three seasons as an assistant at Monroe College, an NJCAA program in the Bronx, before joining Marist (NY) College's staff for the 2004-05 campaign.

From 2005-07, Mr. Richardson returned to the Bronx as the Director of Basketball for the New York Gauchos/Teamwork Foundation. Richardson's U-18 red team captured the gold medal at the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival, making him the youngest coach ever to win the event, and the first AAU coach to be selected by USA Basketball as a festival head coach.

Mr. Richardson spent two seasons at Xavier (OH) University (2007-09) under Coach Miller, helping guide the Musketeers to 57 wins, two conference titles and a pair of deep NCAA Tournament runs. In 2007-08, Xavier posted a school-record 30 wins and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Following the 2008-09 season, Mr. Richardson accompanied Coach Miller to Tucson and joined the Arizona basketball staff in the spring of 2009, where he has established himself as one of the finest recruiters in college basketball.

His efforts in building and strengthening Arizona's recruiting ties across the country have helped the Wildcats land a top-10 recruiting class in 2011 and back-to-back top-five classes in 2012 and 2013.

Mr. Richardson and his wife, Erin, have three children, daughters Chassidy, Sere, Channel and son E.J.

"To be inducted into any Hall of Fame is an incredible honor, but to be inducted into my University's Hall of Fame is a dream come true, thank you God," Mr. Richardson said. "Of course none of this would be possible without my parents, biological and the ones that I've picked up through life. Thanks to my biological mom Sylvia Daniels and my surrogate moms Donna Vickroy and Ms. Betty Mae Lewis. Thank you to my dads Gary Decesare, Bob Rukavina, and Ron Vickroy!  I would also love to thank my loving and supporting wife Erin for showing me what true hard work, love, and dedication is. Actually thank you to all the people that I mentioned for showing me how to be a good human being! Thank you to Pitt-Johnstown for helping me grow up, and thank you for allowing me to always be a Mountain Cat!"

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame — Lenore Shimkus-Schell
Women's Basketball - 1980-1984

Lenore Shimkus-SchellFrom the 1980-81 season through the 1983-84 season, Ms. Lenore Shimkus-Schell dominated on the basketball court under head coaches Clyde Horner and Jodi Gault. Ms. Shimkus-Schell closed out her career as a two-time American Women's Sport Federation (AWSF) All-American and climbed as high as second on the Lady Cat All-Time Scoring List with nearly 1,500 points.

Ms. Schimkus-Schell, a native of Mahanoy City, Pa. and a graduate of Marion Catholic High School, made an immediate impact, by becoming an All-East Region selection as a freshman following the 1980-81 campaign.

Things continued to get even better as her Pitt-Johnstown career continued. Ms. Shimkus-Schell helped lead the Lady Cats to a No. 3 national ranking, a Great Lake Regional Championship, and a trip to the NCAA Division III National Quarterfinals in 1983-84.

In the process, she garnered her second straight AWSF All-America honor and was nominated for the Division II Champion Player of the Year Award.

Ms. Shimkus-Schell, the Most Valuable Player at both the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cat Classic and the Shippensburg University Tournament, closed out her outstanding Lady Cat career with 1,486 points, which ranked second behind only Pitt-Johnstown Hall of Famer Lisa Britt's 1,945 points at the time of her graduation in 1984. Ms. Shimkus-Schell's 1,486 points are still tied with Hall of Fame inductee Mindy Young-Gagliardi for seventh-place on the Lady Cat Scoring List.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, Ms. Shimkus-Schell left the Johnstown area and began her career in the financial data processing industry where she has served as a senior management executive with progressive experience in leadership development, systems development, operations, corporate development, and acquisition integration. Ms. Shimkus-Schell is currently employed as the Director of Operations for Direct Supply, the nation's leading supplier of equipment and eCommerce systems to the Senior Living Industry, in Milwaukee, Wis.

Along with her profession career, Ms. Shimkus-Schell is a board member and the head of the marketing committee for Literacy Services of Wisconsin. In addition, she is an assistant high school varsity girls basketball coach and a junior high school basketball coach.

Ms. Shimkus-Schell has been married to her husband Dr. Joseph A. Schell, DDS, who she met while attending Pitt-Johnstown, for 28 years. The Schell's have two grown children, Stephanie Suzanne-Schell (24) and Derek Allen Schell (22). Both children were former All-State basketball players who earned full collegiate basketball scholarships. The Schell's reside in New Berlin, Wis.

"Being selected into the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame is a special honor and privilege," Ms. Shimkus-Schell said. "I feel very blessed and I am humbled by it. This would not be possible without the love and support of my family, coaches, and teammates."

2014 Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame —
Recognition of 1996-97 Men's Basketball's First NCAA Regional Tournament Team

Head Coach Bob Rukavina and the Mountain Cat men's basketball team truly made the 1996-97 season a memorable one. Pitt-Johnstown posted a school-best 21-6 overall record, debuted in the national polls, and made history by earning the program's first ever NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament appearance.

The Mountain Cats opened the season with four straight victories, including a championship to open the year at the Pitt-Johnstown Tip-Off Tournament. Following a loss at Mansfield University, the Mountain Cats responded by winning their next seven games to improve to 11-1 and climbing to fourteenth in the Division II national polls.

Columbia Union (MD) College upset Pitt-Johnstown to snap the streak, but the Mountain Cats again bounced back to win seven more games and raise their home winning streak in the Sports Center to 18 consecutive games and get back into the Top-25 at No. 19.

Senior guard Matt Lushko became just the eighth Mountain Cat to reach the 1,000-point plateau in a 98-84 win over West Chester University, before Emmanuel "Book" Richardson set the school record for assists in a season with 234 to close out the home schedule in a Pitt-Johnstown win over Edinboro University. Richardson's 8.7 assists per game proved to be the best in NCAA Division II that season.

A last second basket by Columbia Union in the regular season finale sank the Mountain Cats and put them at 21-5.

Now it was time to wait and see if Pitt-Johnstown's 21-5 record was good enough to get a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It proved to be, as the Mountain Cats learned that they got a bid to "March Madness" through live satellite broadcast on March 2.

Pitt-Johnstown would be one of just six teams to participate in the East Region Tournament at Salem-Teikyo University in Salem, W.Va., where the Mountain Cats would take on High Point (NC) University in the first round on March 6.

The Mountain Cats held a slim one-point halftime advantage, but High Point battled back in the second half and ended Pitt-Johnstown's magical run with a 94-92 victory in overtime.

When it was all said and done, the 1996-97 Mountain Cat basketball team shattered 10 of the program's all-time records, including Devlin Herring, who broke three records for steals. Herring's 122 total steals, 4.5 steals per game, and 10 steals against Indiana University (PA) on February 4, 1997 continue to be school records today. In addition, along with Richardson leading the country in assists, guard Herring's 4.5 steals per game also paced NCAA Division II.

Chris Rhames (17.1 ppg.), Herring (15.2 ppg.), Justin Walther (14.6 ppg.) and Lushko (11.4 ppg.) all averaged in double figures in scoring, while Rhames (7.7 rpg.) and Walther (7.3 rpg.) paced the team in rebounding.

Despite an opening round loss in the NCAA Tournament, the 1996-97 Pitt-Johnstown basketball team did what no other Mountain Cat basketball team had done and helped to build the foundation of what the program has developed into today.

Pitt-Johnstown's inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame class was inducted on September 30, 2007 and included: Lisa Britt (Women's Basketball), Sean Isgan (Wrestling), Carl Sax (Men's Basketball), C. Edward Sherlock (Men's Basketball and Athletic Director), and James Wilkes (Men's Basketball)
Class of 2009: Carlton Haselrig (Wrestling), Clyde Horner (Head Coach), Joachim Knispel (Men's Soccer), Paul Leonard (Baseball), Dave Roman, Sr. (Men's Basketball), and Mindy Young-Gagliardi (Women's Basketball)
Class of 2010: Jodi Gault (Head Women's Basketball Coach), Dr. Robert Hartnett (Men's Basketball/Meritorious Service), Dave Hoff (Baseball), Rich Ragan (Men's Basketball), Patty Ritter-Sharbaugh (Women's Gymnastics), and Lee Schickel (Wrestling), and the 1996 National Championship Wrestling Team
Class of 2011: Bob Bulas (Men's Basketball), Don Elzer (Men's Basketball), Steve Parker (Men's Track and Field/Cross Country), Jody Strittmatter (Wrestling), and Trish Wajers-Carr (Women's Basketball)
Class of 2012: Mike Gresik (Baseball/Men's Basketball), Quinn Harris (Men's Basketball), Maureen Latterner-Brown (Women's Basketball), Teri Menett-Cruse (Women's Basketball/Volleyball), John Strittmatter (Wrestling), and the 1999 National Championship Wrestling Team
Class of 2013: Tony Albertelli (Wrestling), Jill Halapin (Women's Basketball), Bruce Haselrig (Wrestling Coach), Justin Walther (Men's Basketball), and the 1986-87 Women's Basketball NCAA Final Four Team

Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University is the regional leader, educating for the RealWorld. The distinctive combination of our people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” by AC Online as one of the “Highest ROI Colleges in Pennsylvania,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been presented with The Seven Seals Award by the US Department of Defense’s office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Posted by Natalie Bombatch on 2/26/2014 1:40:00 PM