Penn State Behrend announces 2014 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College will induct six individuals into the its Athletics Hall of Fame this fall on Saturday, Sept. 27. The following graduates will be inducted: James Curren, 2004, Jason Karas, 2002, Jessica Knapp, 2004, Julie Leininger, 2000, Keith Lepionka, 2003 and honorary member Bob Light. The 2003-04 men’s and women’s basketball teams will be recognized for their participation in the NCAA Tournament, while the 2004 men’s tennis, women’s tennis, women’s cross country and men’s golf teams will be honored for their 10-year anniversaries of winning an AMCC Championship.
Curren was one of the most prolific scorers in school and conference history on the basketball court. He was a four-time All-AMCC selection and two-time AMCC Player of the Year at the center position. With few players as dominant as Curren, he powered his way to school-records with 1,726 points and 659 field-goals made. He went from AMCC Rookie of the Year as a freshman, to team MVP as a sophomore, to Behrend’s Male Athlete of the Year his senior season. Curren led the team to two ECAC bids and one run in the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04. That year, he also earned ECAC and All-Region first-team honors.
Karas is arguably the most threatening offensive player in Behrend baseball history. He etched his name in nearly three dozen records in just two years on the baseball diamond. The power hitter and two-time All-AMCC choice finished his career third all-time with 101 RBIs, fourth in home runs (14) and fifth in doubles (25). Karas set the single-season record with 52 RBIs his senior year, leading the Lions to a 35-8 record and their first-ever ECAC South Region Championship.
Knapp turned into one of the greatest distance runners in school history for both cross country and track & field. The two-sport athlete began her freshman year with the AMCC Runner of the Year award, an honor she would get two more times in her career. Knapp was also selected Team MVP twice and named to the All-Conference Team three times. On the track, she holds seven of the eight top times in the 5000m including the program record with a time of 17:50.14. Knapp also still holds the outdoor records in the 3000m and 10,000m. In over a decade, nobody has come within 10 seconds to those records. She capped her career in 2004 with the Behrend Female Athlete of the Year award.
Leininger made her mark on the Behrend women’s tennis program in her two-year career with the Lions. Leininger accomplished feats many do not do over four years. During her tenure, she posted a 39-3 singles record and 31-1 doubles mark. A two-time AMCC Player of the Year and four-time All-Conference selection, Leininger led Behrend to a pair of AMCC Championships and two undefeated seasons in the conference play. She remains Behrend’s career leader in five categories, including single wins in a season, doubles wins in a season, singles winning percentage, doubles winning percentage, doubles winning percentage in a season.
Lepionka was a three-time All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) selection for the Behrend baseball team. He helped the team win their first-ever AMCC Championship (2003) and capture back-to-back ECAC titles. Lepionka led the Lions to a 68-18 record in the final two seasons, hitting .369 and smacking 55 hits his senior year. The first baseman graduated tied for second all-time in home runs (15), second in RBIs (142) and doubles (30), third in runs (131), fourth in hits (167) and walks (66).
Light, the campus' senior associate dean for research and outreach & chief operating officer (COO), has spent two decades establishing his own legacy at the Penn State Behrend. Light started at Behrend in 1984 as an assistant professor in biology and then served as the associate provost and dean prior to being named the COO in 2010. He also was the master of ceremonies for the Behrend Athletics Hall of Fame for 18 years and is a member of the Central Chapter of Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony and dinner will be held at 6 p.m. in the McGarvey Commons of the Reed Union Building on campus. The induction will conclude the Reunion Weekend activities.