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Coraopolis' Kehoe shines as star of Gettysburg lacrosse

No one is saying Tommy Kehoe is faster than a speeding bullet.

Just that he is the speeding Bullet.

Kehoe's speed and accompanying fervor helped the Gettysburg Bullets lacrosse star become the 2009 NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.

It also helped him get drafted. Wednesday, the senior long-stick midfielder and Coraopolis native was selected by the Chicago Machine in the fifth round of the Major League Lacrosse draft.

"I don't have a tip or secret," Kehoe said of his skills. "I'm just lucky to be fast."

Kehoe is the first Gettysburg player to receive the Player of the Year award, named by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.

Gettysburg coach Hank Janczyk, a member of the award's voting committee, said it's "very rare" for a long-stick midfielder who plays offense and defense to win the award.

"Going into the voting, I was hearing people talk about Tom, that he was better than anybody (at his position) by far," Janczyk said of his star, who scored three goals and played outstanding defense this past season. "That got him the award, and it's well deserved."

Last Sunday, Kehoe helped Gettysburg to its first appearance in the Division III national title game since 2002. The Bullets lost, 9-7, to SUNY-Cortland, but that won't tarnish Kehoe's mark on Gettysburg lacrosse.

"He's one of the finest young men I've ever had in my program," Janczyk said.

He's also one of the best to come out of Sewickley Academy. The 23-year-old Kehoe says his love for the game goes all the way back to middle school.

"Everything I've done goes back to Sewickley," said the 6-foot-2, 178-pounder. "I'm still in touch with my Sewickley class, and that's when we all bonded."

Kehoe started getting attention from colleges in high school, but he didn't indulge in the recruiting process. He went small and chose to play for Division III Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster before transferring in the spring of his sophomore year.

"I wasn't enjoying it as much as I thought I would," he said.

That spring, he took classes at Pitt and played on a club lacrosse team. He then called Janczyk to let him know he'd be coming to Gettysburg.

"That was one of the better phone calls I've ever gotten in my life," Janczyk said.

Still, Janczyk didn't know just how good Kehoe could be, at least initially.

"I knew he could be a lot better than I expected the first few days we saw him run," Janczyk said. "With his athleticism, when he got his fundamentals down, we knew he could be something special."

He didn't disappoint. Kehoe was first-team All-Centennial conference all three years at Gettysburg, a second-team All-American as a junior and a first-team All-American as a senior.

And now he has a chance to play in the country's premier outdoor lacrosse league. He joins Seneca Valley graduate Peet Poillon of Maryland-Baltimore County (3rd round, Boston) as a local draftee.

Most MLL players, Kehoe says, have other jobs and fly in for games on weekends, which he says he would do while working in a business development and sales position for Book Country Clearing House in McKeesport. That could be as soon as this summer, provided he makes the team's 19-man active roster.

"Fortunately, I'm employed, especially with today's economy," Kehoe said. "It's a good feeling. I think I'll be able to work it out."

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