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Keystone Oaks grad running by the competition, into the end zone with Washington & Jefferson

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Washington & Jefferson athletics
Washington & Jefferson running back Dion Wiegand leads NCAA Division III in rushing touchdowns with 12.

Dion Wiegand started his college career as a Colonial, but he is ending it as a President.

The Keystone Oaks alumnus began playing collegiate football at Robert Morris. He filled in at wide receiver for the Colonials, a role he was not comfortable with after playing running back most of his life. He decided it was in his best interest to transfer and remembered Washington & Jefferson recruiting him out of high school.

“I remember they wanted me to playing running back,” Wiegand said. “Plus the academics and tradition were major drawing factors.”

The transfer wasn't 100 percent smooth. As with any student switching colleges, Wiegand said it was hard to find his place when first arriving in Washington. But he was welcomed with open arms by the football team.

“It was personally hard joining a new team and making new friends,” Wiegand said. “But I was able to get to campus during the spring so I had a lot of time to learn the playbook and get comfortable.”

As a sophomore, he finished with 32 rushing attempts for 123 yards and two touchdowns with nine receptions for 88 yards and a score. In 2012, his production jumped to 174 carries for 667 yards and four touchdowns and 28 catches for 232 yards and a score.

But as a senior, he has run for 642 yards and 12 touchdowns on 105 attempts through the first four games of the season. He also has six catches for 63 yards and a score. He leads all rushers at the NCAA Division III level and is 13th in rushing yards.

Part of his success can be credited to the Presidents' spread offense. The team usually lines up in the shotgun with four wide receivers and one running back, spreading the defense and creating plenty of running room.

“It is hard to key in on one guy,” Wiegand said. “We also have a really good line scheme. It is a fun system to play in.”

Wiegand said he has worked hard to be more patient as a runner. Instead of getting the ball and trying to use his speed to get upfield, the 5-foot-8, 195-pounder has been trying to use his blocks to gain yards. He also has made an effort to step up as a leader.

“Wether it is on the field or classroom, I want to set an example,” Wiegand said. “I hope to be a teacher someday, so having the qualities of a leader is really important.”

Washington & Jefferson is 3-2 and 1-1 in Presidents Athletic Conference play. Wiegand said the Presidents have the athletes and experience to make a run into the playoffs.

From there, the goal will be to go after the big prize.

“Everyone wants to win a national title,” Wiegand said. “Our No. 1 goal is to win the conference. Once you make it to playoffs, anything can happen.”

The Presidents return to the field at 7 p.m. Saturday as they welcome Thomas More to Cameron Stadium.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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