November 16, 2016
On Saturday, Justin DeLuzio of Pennsylvania’s Gwynedd Mercy University was sent flying by a deer during the men’s race at the 2016 NCAA Division III Mideast Region Cross Country Championships in Center Valley, Pa. In the days since, video of the collision, shot by spectator Eric Bologa, has gone viral. Fortunately, DeLuzio, who got up and finished the race, is doing okay now, save for a small bruise on his hip. We caught up with DeLuzio briefly earlier this week to find out what it feels like to be run over by a deer and how the accident brought out the best in his team.
LRC: Did you have any idea the deer was coming?
Justin DeLuzio: I really didn’t have any idea that the deer was coming. I heard a spectator shout “look out for the deer!” And I look[ed] slightly to my left and before I know it, my legs were in the air and I was on the ground.
Where did it hit you?
The deer hit me mainly on the left side of my torso (around the chest) but fortunately did not do much damage besides some bruising.
How long were you on the ground for?
I was not on the ground for a great amount of time. I would say 20 seconds at most. I was fortunate enough to have my teammate Matt French help me up. Not only did he help me up, but he helped me push through and finished the race with me, motivating me every step of the way.
Why did you decide to finish the race? How painful was it during the race?
I really decided to finish because I knew that I would be my last collegiate cross country race. I also wanted to finish with Matt. He sacrificed his last race (as he is also a senior) to run with me and push me through it. He along with all of my other teammates, Matt Brown, Armani Rivera and Lance Joseph, are a great reason as to why I was able to finish. We have been a team all year and I knew that if those guys were willing to help me, the least I could do is finish with them.
Are you sore now/do you have any bruises/scars? Where on your body?
I was in some pain during the race, but I definitely felt it more so afterwards. Once the adrenaline had gone down, it was sore for a couple of days. Fortunately, I do not have any scars or large bruises. Just a small one on my hip.
Anything else you want to say?
All in all the story should go to the camaraderie and sportsmanship of the Gwynedd Mercy XC team and program. Coach Kevin Clark, Dan Geary and especially Mark Ziegler have been incredibly helpful into making me not only a better runner, but also a better person and teammate. Them along with all of my teammates, both on the men’s and women’s side, are truly an incredible group to be around, and I am fortunate to have spent the past two years with them.