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Jaguar alum earns top field hockey honors

North River’s Kelly Blackhurst earned top field hockey honor in her sophomore season at Skidmore.

North River’s Kelly Blackhurst earned top field hockey honor in her sophomore season at Skidmore. Bob Ewell

— Former Jaguar field hockey player Kelly Blackhurst earned a slew of accolades this season for her outstanding performance with the Skidmore Thoroughbreds.

The center forward is the youngest Skidmore player to earn 100 career points. She led scoring this season for the team and ranked sixth-highest nationally in points per game and fourth in assists. Twice this season, she tied the Skidmore program record for 10 points earned in a game.

Her accomplishments earned her the title of North Atlantic Region Player of the Year and a spot on the Longstreth/NFHCA Division III All-American first team.

Despite all the personal recognition, Blackhurst deferred to her teammates.

“It feels nice, but field hockey's a team sport,” she said.

What matters is the team working together to take the division championship or compete nationally, she said. The Thoroughbreds earned their fourth consecutive Liberty League championship and their fifth straight NCAA bid, a feat Blackhurst is confident she and her teammates can repeat.

“Obviously, I look forward to winning another this coming year,” she said.

Though she credits her team with helping her achieve these milestones, Blackhurst has been dedicated to honing her skills on the field since she started field hockey in the fourth grade, like many Jaguars.

The small Adirondack league's less-than-perfect fields may have trained her to put a little more oomph in her steps and swings to fight uneven surfaces and tall grass, she said.

The level of competition was a huge jump, however, said Blackhurst. The women she plays against now are muscular and have finely-tuned stick skills. The game she plays in college is a lot faster, more intense, she said. The games are longer, too, requiring greater endurance.

Growing up in Johnsburg and training in the thinner mountain air gives her an edge when competing against the flatlanders in the college league, Blackhurst said. She ran all week and lifted weights three or four days to maintain peak physical conditioning.

Her parents are just as dedicated to her athletic career as she is, said Blackhurst. Outside of school, she also played for ADK Club field hockey and at national field hockey festivals. Her parents drove her the three-hour round trip to Albany for hour and a half practice, and took her to Syracuse on Sundays.

Even with all her high-level competition during high school, college competition was the first time she played on a team with such dedicated players.

“You're not going to waste time in college,” she said.

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