Meet Justin DeLuzio: the cross country runner who got destroyed by a deer
For Justin DeLuzio, the most unexpected part of getting ear-holed by a white-tail is the sheer force.
You don't expect Bambi to hit like Earl Thomas.
“It lifted me off the ground,” says DeLuzio. “I turned to my left and boom — my feet are in the air.”
DeLuzio, 21, was barely a mile into his last collegiate race as a member of the Gwynedd Mercy University cross country team when he experienced nature's equivalent of an Ed Reed blindside hit over the middle.
Video of the hit was recorded by Eric Bologa, a member of the Frostburg cross-country team — video you can and will watch again and again because it's ridiculous and they haven’t taken Vine from us just yet:
A spectator tries to warn DeLuzio and his fellow runners (“WATCH OUT FOR THE DEER”) and then WAHHHP—an unforgettable clap of fur hitting flesh.
“Someone yelled, and I caught a glimpse of the deer, and I … I just didn’t expect it,” DeLuzio says. “It just flipped me end over end.”
“I sat there in disbelief, I wasn’t quite sure what had happened,’” DeLuzio says. “Part of me was like ‘This is your last race! Get up!’ while the other part like ‘I just got hit by a deer! Take a breath and acknowledge what just happened!’”
After concluding he’d only suffered some deep bruising, DeLuzio waved off concerned race organizers and accepted a hand from teammate Matt French.
Together, the two completed the four remaining miles of the five-mile race as onlookers and runners alike offered encouragement.
“There were a couple kids who came up to me like, ‘Are you OK? That’s such a cool story.' They were like 'I wish I got hit by a deer!’”
With the help of his teammates, DeLuzio crossed the finish line with a time of 31 minutes and 16 seconds — a feat he says he couldn’t have accomplished without French and others sacrificing personal goals to run with him.
“French, he’s a senior like me,” DeLuzio says. “It was his last cross-country race, too. And he sacrificed his potential best time of the season for me … we have five guys on our team, and they were all there for me when this weird thing happened.”
Now, life is a little different for DeLuzio, who has spent the last four days as “the dude who got decked by the deer.”
This is a rare mantle but a perfect one for DeLuzio, who is studying finance and wants to work as an actuary after school — a job that involves using statistics and applying business theory to assess risks for insurance companies and other clients.
Even after this weekend, he’s not bullish on the probability of anyone else getting hit-sticked by Rudolph while running long distance
“I would definitely say there’s relatively low risk in future deer-related injuries in cross-country,” DeLuzio said. “I’m just really fortunate for how it did happen. It could’ve been so much worse.”
Dan is on Twitter. He’s dumping all of his futures in Iron-Deer-Man as fast as he can.