Well-rounded Derry standouts Huss, Kelly up for awards

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020 | 4:30 PM


Editor’s note: This is the third in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

A pair of 4.0 students and three-sport athletes from Derry had as much to give in the classroom as they did in athletics.

Justin Huss and Kamryn Kelly found a way to stand out in both arenas — always with proper perspective.

Both are Judge John J. Driscoll Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Award nominees.

When he had a football in his grasp, Huss always seemed to find a way to gain positive yardage. Big-play runs that often ended with him sprinting past defenders made him a threat to score on every touch.​

Negative yards were a foreign concept to the all-state rusher.​

Huss is the same way when it comes to attitude. It’s all positive and moving forward, no matter the challenge — and he’s a had plenty of challenges.​

His football and basketball careers were snarled by injuries, yet the speedster still managed to take his place among the great multisport athletes in school history.​

He is undeterred by the setbacks. He broke his left leg before the start of his junior football season and broke the right one this past basketball season.​

“Looking back on the injuries I do think I am fortunate because it could have been a lot worse,” Huss said. “Luckily everything has healed up nicely both times, and I’ll be ready to go back out on the field this fall.”

He plans to continue his football and academic careers at Washington & Jefferson.​

Huss might best be known for football, where he rushed for a Class 3A state-leading 2,020 yards as a senior and scored 32 touchdowns while helping Derry return to the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals. ​

He ran for a school-record 405 yards in a single game to break his own record of 304 he set a week earlier. The senior has two other games with 200-plus yards.​

Kelly already has this time-management thing figured out. ​

The shutdown of PIAA spring sports because of the coronavirus hasn’t changed that. In fact, in a way, the experience has served as another layer of college prep for the senior from Derry.​

If there is a secret to making it all work, Kelly might have it.​

“I personally take advantage of my study halls and any time I’m given to get my work done before school ends,”she said, “so I’m not stressed out later after a game or practice about doing homework.”​

Kelly, who played volleyball, basketball and softball — she lost her final season of the third sport — has found positives during challenging times.​

“Absolutely,” she said. “Quarantine has given me the opportunity to improve and break down my skills, step by-step, and prepare myself for softball in college.”​

Her college career will take place at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., where she’ll tackle exercise science. ​

A talented first baseman who also has seen time at catcher and in the outfield in high school and travel ball, Kelly hit .500 (18 for 36), hit four home runs, drove in 14 runs and also scored 14. She was the team leader in just about every offensive category.​

In volleyball, the 5-foot-8 Kelly was a three-time all-section player and made the all-WPIAL third team three times. ​

She helped Derry return to the WPIAL playoffs in basketball, providing a dependable post presence who could score, rebound and block shots.​

As good as Huss was in football, he made his mark in two other sports. He also was a key guard for the basketball team, which made back-to-back playoff trips for the first time in six decades. A key scorer, rebounder and defender, he was injured six games in, just before Christmas.​

While he missed the rest of his final basketball campaign, Huss rehabbed and had planned to run track again, before the PIAA decided to cancel the spring season because of the coronavirus. ​

Huss won the WPIAL Class AA 400-meter dash last season and helped the boys team make the WPIAL playoffs. ​

“For all the seniors who did not have the opportunity to compete in their sport this spring, it is not how we wanted our high school careers to end,” Huss said. “I know we wished we could’ve had the chance to compete one last time. I’m just happy I had the opportunity to accomplish what I did individually and as a team in the first three years.”​

He will leave a trail of memories behind when he graduates — albeit virtually as there will not be a ceremony because of social distancing.​

“As an athlete I just hope I left a positive impact on Derry sports and hope I was a good leader for the guys below me,” Huss said. “I am pleased with what I have done and with my accomplishments in all my sports throughout the years. I am very grateful my coaches and teammates gave me the opportunity to succeed in sports and everything the coaches have taught me.”​

It didn’t take Kelly long to come up with her favorite highlights in each sport.​

“Volleyball was definitely my junior year when we made it to the second round of playoffs,” she said. “Basketball was being able to adjust to all of the obstacles that we were put through (including coaching changes). And softball practices were always the best time getting out on the field with my friends and working hard to prove people wrong.”​

Kelly was known as a “coachable” impact player in each sport. She would like those who followed her career to remember her leadership.​

“I hope that people see me as a leader and a future role model in all of the sports I play,” she said. “And as a person who never gave up on anything that came in the way of success.​”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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