SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — High school student-athletes have enough on their plates. Among other strenuous duties of being a young adult, they must balance school work, sports, and social lives in order to be successful.
Usually, though, that topsy-turvy schedule only applies to a few months out of the teenager’s life, when their sport is going on.
But Kelly Mehorter, a 2018 graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, lived to that schedule virtually every day of her entire high school life.
Mehorter recently completed an incredible feat rarely seen in today’s youth sports world full of “specialized” one-sport athletes. With her varsity letter for girls’ lacrosse this spring, she became a 12-time letter winner, meaning that she played a varsity sport in every season — track in the fall and winter, and lacrosse in the spring — of her four high school years.
Mehorter became only the third 12-season varsity athlete athlete at Scotch Plains-Fanwood this decade. Colin Sullivan (2017) and Jon Kerby (2012) were the previous two.
“Three-season athletes are very rare now,” said Jeffrey Koegel, who coached Mehorter in track for eight seasons. “Too many kids tend to become ‘specialists’ ... Kelly was able to come right in as a freshman in all three seasons and contribute to each team on a varsity level.”
Though she enjoyed track success, Mehorter finished her lacrosse career as one of Scotch Plains-Fanwood's most decorated players. She was a four-year regular on defense and at midfield under head coaches Rob Rafferty as a freshman and sophomore, and Virginia Weber during her final two seasons. She scored a career 86 total points and collected 149 ground balls.
Attending Ithaca College in New York to play lacrosse, Mehorter — a team captain — capped off her high school athletic career with a monster senior campaign which saw her score 26 goals, win 78 face-offs, and scoop up 71 grounders while playing nearly every minute of every game. That helped lead the Raiders to a 13-6 overall record, and the team went 7-1 in conference play.
"Kelly knows what to do and has the ability to make big plays happen," said Weber. "She was the anchor of our defense for the past two season in which I was able to coach her. Her ability to shut down top attackers is unmatchable. This year she also played a huge role in our midfield and on the draw circle. Kelly can do it all."
Most of that lacrosse success, according to coach Weber, can be directly attributed to the fitness acquired from track.
"She always came into season as one of the top girls in shape," Weber explained. "This was beneficial because she did not have to worry about getting in shape during the season and could focus more on her lacrosse skills. Due to how well of shape she was in she was able to run by any defender and had the ability to run the ball the entire length of the field."
Most impressively, Mehorter was able to shine on the lacrosse field each spring after completing two seasons of highly-competitive track earlier in the school year. During the fall, she ran cross country, then quickly transitioned to indoor track for the winter season.
And she was quite good at both.
This past winter, Mehorter reached a career landmark when she qualified for the New Jersey Group III Championship in the 800 and 4 x 400 races — the events which she ran the Raiders’ fastest splits of the season in. She set a personal record of 2:25.74 for the 800 — which Koegel considers Mehorter’s best event — to place third in sectionals, thereby clinching a spot in the Group Championship.
Later in that sectional meet, along with fellow seniors Amanda Logie, Trinity Hart, and Imani Rivers, Mehorter then contributed to a 4 x 400 time of 4:17.34.
“I was very proud of what Kelly did this winter and I hope she knows that,” said Koegel. “We put in a lot of hard work together, and it was very rewarding to see it paying off.”
Perhaps the four-year example Mehorter set as a wildly successful three-sport athlete will help inspire future generations to not just “specialize”. As she proved, it’s not like an athlete loses ground in their main sport.
“I hope younger players realize that you do not have to specialize in one sport in order to play in college,” Weber said. “Taking time off and exposing yourself to different sports in high school will also make you successful … Not only did this help her in her athletic career, but it will also be beneficial when she goes on to play lacrosse in college.”
Not to mention, 12 total varsity letters make great college dorm decorations.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy is located across the street from the Stage House Tavern and shares a free, handicap accessible parking lot with the Scotch Plains Public Library. Joint Motion can be reached for an appointment by phone 908-322-3202, or email email@example.com. You can also learn more at www.facebook.com/JointMotionPT.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy
373 Park Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076