IUP will play Winston-Salem State in an NCAA Division II football playoff regional final Saturday with a trip to the sport's equivalent of the final four on the line.
The Rams have offensive lineman Nate Hartung, 25, who graduated from Butler in 2005.
Hartung was a center at Butler -- and was a basketball player for the Golden Tornado -- and considered one of the best linemen in the state that year. He played for Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Classic.
Hartung, a Mormon, had an original plan to do his two-year mission, then enroll at BYU and play football for the Cougars.
After he returned from his mission in New Zealand, he went to BYU, but things didn't work out as planned. Injuries curtailed his career, sending him to Eastern Arizona Junior College in '09 and '10.
He again was injured and ready to end his career, so he returned to Butler. He was working in a steel mill when, according to the Winston-Salem Journal, he was convinced by Winston-Salem offensive line coach John Eder to visit the campus. Hartung enrolled in the spring.
Hartung, known for his size, was a bit out of shape when he arrived -- reported to weigh 420 pounds -- but he was strong. He worked himself into shape and is listed at 6 feet 2, 380 pounds.
He has enjoyed an excellent season with the Rams (12-0) at starting guard and has been part of a line that blocks for an offense that averages 44.5 points and 485.5 yards per game.
He was named the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association lineman of the week in October for his efforts in the Rams' 35-3 win against Bowie State.
Hartung, a junior, is the oldest of nine children, and his father, Dick, was the men's basketball coach at Butler County Community College.
If only NCAA Division I would take a cue from Division II.
IUP is playing Winston-Salem because it survived a dramatic, last-minute drive by New Haven Saturday in a second-round game.
New Haven took possession with more than three minutes to go at the 6 and drove to the IUP 31. Its last-second throws into the end zone were knocked down by the Crimson Hawks, who survived to play another week.
The intensity of these playoff games is heightened by the one-and-done format, which IUP coach Curt Cignetti said makes the games that much more exciting for the players and the fans.
One of the best wrestlers in the area is Waynesburg's Sam Lombardo, who is the defending Presidents' Athletic Conference champion in the 165-pound weight class.
Lombardo, a junior from Canon-McMillan, is wrestling in the 157-pound class this year and went 4-0 last week, including two major decisions against Division II wrestlers.
He is listed among honorable mentions in the 157-pound class in the D3wrestle.com national wrestling rankings this week.
The Point Park men's soccer team finished 11-7 and made the NAIA tournament for the first time in school history, and as a result, the Pioneers garnered plenty of recognition from the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Coach Jeroen Walstra was named the KIAC coach of the year for the second year in a row, and four players -- senior midfielder Alex Sala, senior forward Matt Annecchiarico, senior forward Francis Tabi and junior defender Brett Gwosden -- were named to the all-conference team.
Point Park was 16th in the NAIA in goals per game (3.17) and needed one more win to tie the school-record of 12 set by the 1998 team and duplicated by last year's team.
Former Greensburg Salem star Chris Klimchock was named the PAC basketball player of the week after averaging 22.3 points in three games.
Klimchock, who originally enrolled at Edinboro then transferred to Saint Vincent last year, was 17 of 43 from the field and 27 of 30 from the free-throw line. He also had 14 assists, 8 rebounds and 6 steals in the three games.
He averages 19 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Bearcats (3-2).
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @paulzeise.