Last year at this time, Kourtney Brussell was preparing to help lead Honesdale to yet another District Two cross country championship. On Tuesday evening at Forest City, the Lady Hornet junior took a small step on the road to recovery from a painful stress fracture.

What a difference a year makes.

Last fall, Honesdale’s Kourtney Brussell was one of the most feared runners in all of District Two. Beneath her radiant smile and clear, sparkling eyes beats the heart of a fierce competitor.

Brussell was only a sophomore in 2007, but in just two full years of varsity competition Kourtney had already scorched nearly every course she’d set foot on.

Brussell and freshman phenom Erin Craig formed a deadly 1-2 punch. These two girls combined in leading Honesdale to another District Two team title.Craig was the first Lady Hornet across the line in the Class AAA race. Erin finished 5th overall with a time of 20:58. Kourtney was right on her heels, placing 8th in 21:22.

On Tuesday, fans from all over the region gathered in Forest City to see the Lady Hornets take their next step in defense of that crown. As expected, Craig blazed her way to a Top Five finish. However, Brussell had to content herself with more modest goals.

Kourtney is trying to fight her way through a nagging injury. She’s suffered a pair of stress fractures the past two years and is only now beginning to feel like her old self.

“My main goal right now is to move up one girl each race ...that’s pretty much what I’m trying to accomplish,” Kourtney told TWI Sports Tuesday evening in Forest City. “It’s really frustrating because I want to move up faster and help the team win.”

On this particular day, Brussell maintained a smooth, measured pace. She ran the majority of the race side-by-side with Dunmore’s Maria Stivale. Ironically, the Lady Buck junior is re-habbing a very similar injury.

Kourtney pulled away from Stivale in the final 200M, carving out a well-deserved 15th place finish. Her time of 23:09 was solid, but not in the elite range to which she’s become accustomed.

“It was kind of nice running with a girl who’s going through the same thing as me,” said Brussell, who’s contemplating a career in physical therapy. “I really wish I could run faster, but I know I have to be patient.”

Hall of Fame Coach Joe Macey concurred.

“I know how hard it is for Kourtney right now,” he said. “But, we want her to focus on getting better. She’s a competitive young lady and she’s working very hard. “Our goals for Kourtney at this stage are long term. We’re don’t want her to lose out on track and her senior year.”

Kourtney Brussell is a well-rounded student/athlete. In addition to starring in two sports, she also has a bone fide artistic flair. She loves to draw and is currently experimenting with clay.

“I’m pretty creative,” she said with a laugh.

Creative enough to mold herself back into an elite cross country runner? Stay tuned...