After coming off a three-month injury and regaining her confidence, Emily Cousens, of Contoocook, is making an impact for New York University.
The former Hopkinton High standout led NYU to a second-place cross country finish in the Metropolitan Championship and was named ECAC Division III Metro Runner of the Week last month.
Those accomplishments allowed her to capture the Apple Therapy Services/Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center New Hampshire Union Leader Athlete of the Month honors for October. Cousens will be honored at the New Hampshire Union Leader's annual sports banquet, The Leaders: A Celebration of New Hampshire Sports Champions on Feb. 9, 2014.
Last spring, Cousens suffered a hip stress fracture following two successful running events on the same day. She won the University Athletic Association's 1,500-meter run in 4:35 and set a personal, school and conference record in a 5K race in 16:59.
"I woke up the next morning and just couldn't walk," said Cousens. "I had to take the next three months off. My rehab was basically cross training for 75 minutes a day."
She started running 15 minutes a day in August and gradually built back her strength and stamina.
"My teammates were very supportive, telling me not to get down," said Cousens, who hit her stride last month.
She was named ECAC Division III Metro Runner of the Week and University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week for her first-place showing in the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble at Oberlin, Ohio, on Oct. 19.
Competing in just her third race after missing the start of the season with her injury, Cousens led a field of 287 runners from 34 teams, covering the 6K (3.75-mile) course in 21 minutes, 54.5 seconds (a 5:53-per-mile pace).
Eight days earlier, she led NYU to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Championship at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., placing fifth overall in 18:39.87 over the 3.1-mile course. She received conference all-academic honors for the fall season from the UAA.
"Those races in October restored my confidence," said Cousens. "During my injury, I was told I needed to strengthen my muscles around the hip. Since then, I've been playing it smart, making sure I'm doing my strength training properly."
Last Saturday, Cousens finished as NYU's No. 1 runner and ninth overall in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship in Geneseo, N.Y., leading her school to its first regional title. She earned all-region honors and a berth to Saturday's NCAA Division III National Championship race in Hanover, Ind.
"To be part of the school's first regional title championship is gratifying," she said. "For me it's about team first. I didn't have any personal goals. I just wanted to help my team win. I still think I have one more good race in me. I'm shooting for a sub 21:30 time (on Saturday).
In the balloting for the athlete of the month award, Cousens received 24 points, nudging Nashua North freshman golfer Brandon Gillis (22 points), who won the Division I NHIAA Golf Championship at Canterbury Woods in Canterbury.
Placing third with 20 points was Nashua South quarterback Trevor Knight, who led his team to a 3-1 record during the month.
Marc Gaudet, a senior football player for Concord High who scored eight touchdowns in four October games, was fourth in the balloting with 16 points, ahead of Bishop Guertin of Nashua sophomore golfer Chelsea Sedlar (14 points), who won the 2013 NHIAA Girls' Golf Championship at Campbell's Scottish Highlands in Salem on Oct. 5.