Athletics Hall Marks 10th Year, Inducts 5

Pitt-Johnstown

posted April 24, 2017


Pitt-Johnstown’s Athletics Hall of Fame marked its 10th anniversary and inducted five new members in the Class of 2017 on April 22, 2017.

The event, held at the Wellness Center, also honored retired Pitt-Johnstown professor Dr. Clark Strausser, who was recognized for his meritorious service to the athletic department.

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar noted the special occasion during his remarks.

“At Pitt-Johnstown, our athletes, coaches, and teams give us so many reasons to be Mountain Cat Proud," said Dr. Spectar. "I want to acknowledge the significant contributions that are made through the fine work of the members of our Athletics departments, including our coaches, trainers and staff members. 

“Tonight, as I look out into this room, it is clear that all of you share in that pride.  Thank you for your pride, your support, and your presence here this evening and congratulations to the 2017 inductees of Pitt-Johnstown’s Athletic Hall of Fame.”

The class of 2017 includes:

  • Troy Barbush–  Wrestling
  • Amy Kessler – Women’s Basketball
  • Brent Matish – Baseball
  • Chris Rhames – Men’s Basketball
  • John Sumoski – Men’s Soccer

“These five outstanding individuals are part of an ever-growing legacy that is our Athletics Hall of Fame. Since its inception in 2007, 49 individuals and three teams have earned induction. This shrine has been established to recognize the very best that we are. It serves as a reminder and gives purpose to all we can be.”

Dr. Spectar noted that Pitt-Johnstown athletes achieved distinctive milestones on and off the field, including:

  • 280 student athletes participated in athletics in 2016-2017, which is the largest number ever
  • 84 student-athletes on Dean’s List  (30% of student-athletes)
  • 10 student-athletes have a 4.0 GPA
  • Average Student Athlete GPA is 2.91 (as compared to 2.88 for all students)
  • Student Athlete graduation rate of 78% (higher than student body)
  • and 33 student athletes earned recognition at the recent Mountain Cat Awards ceremony

Individually, student athletes scored academic numerous honors.

  • Madeline George (Volleyball): Bross Family Scholarship in Business, Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society
  • Dillon Boyer (Baseball): College Scholar in Electrical Engineering, Faculty Senate Student Athlete Award, University Scholar
  • Delaney Roman (Volleyball): Dr. Lowell Shaffer Student-Athlete Award, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Beta Delta
  • Kaitlyn Eckley (Soccer): Dr. Lowell Shaffer Student-Athlete Award
  • Haleigh Heaton (Volleyball, Cross Country): Faculty Senate Scholar Athlete Award, Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society (will be attending Widener Law School in the fall).
  • Isaac Vescovi (Basketball): University Scholar
  • Emily Hanwell (Track): Phi Kappa Phi
  • Devin Orr (VB): Sigma Beta Delta

The Class of 2017 inductees included:

Troy Barbush, Wrestling, Class of 1999. Barbush was part of two NCAA Division II national championship teams in 1996 and 1999 and won an individual national crown at 165 pounds as a senior. He earned four All-American honors and was a four-time First Team National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team selection. He was the first at UPJ to achieve the dual feat. He won three East Region individual crowns. His 34 regular-season wins and 39 wins overall still are a Pitt-Johnstown single-season record at 165 pounds. Barbush went 113-24 in his career, an .825 winning percentage.

Amy Kessler, Women’s Basketball, Class of 1992. Kessler finished her career as the Lady Cats’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,662 points.The mark still ranks third all-time. She had 405 career steals and made 191 of 519 career 3-point attempts, all three records at the time. Kessler was a Kodak Honorable Mention All-American in 1991-92, when she also was named the NCAA East Region Tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She was named the Mideast Conference Co-Player of the Year in 1990-91. Kessler started all four seasons under former coach Jodi Gault and was part of back-to-back Mideast Conference championship teams in 1990 and 1991 as well as the East Regional championship squad in 1992.

Brent Matish, Baseball, Class of 2004. Matish came to Pitt-Johnstown as a highly touted infielder but four years later departed as one of the top outfielders in the North Atlantic Region. Matish played 22 games as a freshman and eventually made the move from second base to center field, where he started the final 133 games of his career. He batted .350 as a sophomore; followed with a .380 average as a junior; and capped a stellar career with a .405 batting average as a senior. Matish set Pitt-Johnstown single-season records with 70 hits, 173 at-bats, 56 runs and 21 stolen bases as the Mountain Cats posted a then program-best 31-14 record in 2004. His 55 career stolen bases and 90.2 percent stolen base success rate remain program records, while his 142 career runs rank third.

• Chris Rhames, Men’s Basketball, Class of 1999. Rhames was the leading scorer on Pitt-Johns-town’s first two NCAA Division II East Region Tournament teams in 1997 and 1998. He finished with 1,373 points and 614 rebounds during his Mountain Cats career. An All-East Region selection during the 1997-98 season, he was part of a group that transformed the once-struggling Pitt-Johnstown men’s basketball program into a top contender. As a freshman, Rhames averaged 7.7 rebounds a game and helped UPJ to only its second winning season in a 16-year span. He averaged 17.1 points and 7 rebounds as a sophomore, when coach Bob Rukavina’s team won 21 games and earned the program’s first invitation to the East Region Tournament. The following season, he scored 18.3 points a game and helped the Mountain Cats return to the East Region Tournament. UPJ went 24-5 with an opening round win over Queens College in the tournament.

• John Sumoski, Men’s Soccer, Class of 1991. Sumoski remains one of the most highly decorated Pitt-Johnstown men’s soccer players in the program’s history. A two-time Mid-Atlantic All-Region selection and three-time All-Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Soccer Association selection, Sumoski made an immediate impact with three goals and one assist to earn the team’s Mr. Hustle Award in 1987. As a sophomore he had three goals and three assists to earn First Team All-WPSCA and UPJ MVP honors. Sumoski closed his career with two banner seasons. As a junior, he had 13 goals and three assists for coaches Mike Smith and Todd Olsen. He was a Mid-Atlantic All-Region second team and All-WPSCA first team. As a senior during the fall of 1990, he netted a school-record 18 goals and seven assist to take first team Mid-Atlantic Region honors and a third straight first-team all-conference selection. His 37 career goals rank second in Pitt-Johnstown history.

To donate to the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame or to support Pitt-Johnstown athletics, please use the Pitt-Johnstown Giving link.


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.