Pete Blumenstein is the only human to defeat the Iron Crusader. But could he design a robot capable of doing the same?
"No," said the Father Judge senior, who recently triumphed over machine by finishing two miles on a treadmill in less than 12 minutes with 25 of his schoolmates watching. "It would be way too slow."
Few would know better than Blumenstein whether a robot programmed to rattle off 60 perfect push-ups might struggle to finish a nine-second shuttle run and still be functional after jumping rope for 10 consecutive minutes.
He's the first member of Father Judge's Iron Crusader Club, an elite fitness initive launched last year by athletic director Jimmy Lynch.
He's also in the running to be valedictorian, with plans to study mechanical engineering at Drexel, Loyola, Penn, or Princeton. And an all-Catholic League rower. And, beginning earlier this year, one of the guys who builds the robot on the robotics team.
He gave the robot question a little more thought.
"Maybe it could do the squat," he said. "We could get some high-torque motors that would probably be able to do that."
The squat and the bench press are the two Iron Crusader challenges Blumenstein skipped.
"Together, we'd do them all."
Blumenstein is already a bit cyborg-like in his approach to exercise. He did not listen to music while training for the Iron Crusader, focusing on the process of what his body needed to do. It's a crew thing, and it makes it easier to understand how an Iron Crusader is contained within a 5-foot-7, 148-pound National Honor Society member.
"You couldn't make him up," Lynch said. "He's a regular, everyday kid."
Which is exactly what Lynch hoped to attract. After becoming the PCL's first full-time athletic director last year, he found the football team making ample use of the Mitchell Activity Center. The regular, everyday kids stayed away. Lynch launched several initiatives, including the Iron Crusader and an extensive intramural program, to remedy that.
Worlds collided when Blumenstein attempted the 10-minute jump rope. He tripped with 50 seconds to go, then took a quick breather and tried again, concentrating on keeping his knees a little higher.
Beside him, an intramural pingpong tournament raged on. True to Lynch's vision, these weren't exactly future Olympians wielding the paddles.
"They were terrible," Blumenstein said. "So I've got pingpong balls flying at me, and I'm just waiting for one to go under my foot while I'm jumping this rope."
He saved the dreaded two-mile run for last.
The Iron Crusader must be completed within a 30-day window. The deadline approached, and snow covered the track. So Lynch fired up the treadmill. A third-period health class came down and watched as man nearly succumbed to machine.
"About halfway through, I noticed I was moving backward," Blumenstein said. He considered hitting stop. "I'm standing in front of the window, and it's like a greenhouse effect with the window and the sun. I'm burning up."
He finished in 11:55. The treadmill fell silent. The health class cheered.
Blumenstein doesn't really buy the whole regular-guy triumph thing. He would have been working out for crew, anyway.
But, to others, he's an everyman hero. He was helping out at a recent St. Jerome's CYO track practice, when a coach pulled him aside.
"Thank God it wasn't some football player," the coach told him.
Father Judge has plenty of football players, but, for now, only one Iron Crusader.
That was clear on Judge's first dress-down day, when Blumenstein proudly wore his prize - a light blue, Iron Crusader T-shirt - to school. His friends mocked him a little, but the Iron Crusader didn't mind.
He wanted to show off. After all, he's not a robot.
Philly.com host Pat Gallen talks to Pete Blumenstein and athletic director Jimmy Lynch and challenges the senior in three of the Iron Crusader events.
Iron Crusader Club
An entrant must complete eight of these standards within 30 days of beginning the competition. Each participant is given three official attempts at each standard. When the challenge is failed, he must wait 60 days before starting over.
of body weight
Squat 200 percent of body weight
for 10 minutes