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The new faces of the MoHarv

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two students are waving their arms, cheering loudly and dancing their way across the court as the new co-mascots at the University of Charleston.

Colin Rybak and Niko Naleid said they stumbled into what is now their favorite thing on campus. The two pharmacy students began painting their chests maroon and gold to attend home games at UC, where they would compete in dance-off competitions.

"We are still gathering the popular consensus on this. From the few people we have talked to, it seems that they are fairly entertained," Rybak said. "During the actual moment though, it is hard to hear any cheers or boos as I personally 'get in the zone.'"

Ryback, 26, and Naleid, 19, who do pushups alongside the cheerleaders, said being co-mascots as the MoHarv has been an outlet for their school spirit.

"I guess they didn't want to make us male cheerleaders," Rybak said.

"There are always pom-poms everywhere," Naleid said. He's gotten into the practice of kicking them away from his feet -- if he can see them through MoHarv's head. 

Rybak said he's been learning the ropes as he goes. 

"The first game, I waved to the other team and they started throwing things at me," Rybak said. One of the cheerleaders pulled him aside and said that the other team may see that as mocking.

The students said although the pharmacy school is right on campus, they still don't have very much interaction with the rest of the school, so getting involved with campus activates is a great way of bringing the two worlds together.

The co-mascots, who started in the middle of the football season, do their best to make it to all home games.

"When it fits both or one of our schedule's, we are certainly willing to do it," Rybak said, although his personal attendance has not been 100 percent. Neither of the mascots has traveled with the team to any away games.

Rybak, originally from Syracuse, N.Y., graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in 2009. He spent a few years after graduation trying to decide what he wanted to do with his degree.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do but knew I was really interested in being a pharmacist and figured I was capable enough although I only graduated with a 2.5 GPA. I have the science background, I have always found drug and drug interactions extremely interesting. Why not practice at the highest level and become a pharmacist?"

Naleid, from San Francisco, studied briefly at the University of New England, before moving to Charleston.

Before attending UC, both Rynak and Naleid said they didn't know much about West Virginia.

"I didn't really know where West Virginia was before I got on a plane to come here," Naleid said.

"I didn't think Charleston was anywhere," Rybak said, but the city "has definitely won me over."

Rybak said with the semester workload picking up, "seeing both MoHarv's in action at the same time might become more a rarity," but the students hope their fun-loving approach brings positive energy to campus.


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