E.A. Sports Today

Shuler’s star rises

Ohatchee junior selected for inaugural North-South cross country race during Alabama All-Star Week

NOTE: This story contains previously published material

By East Alabama Sports Today

Ohatchee junior Kourtney Shuler has been selected to compete in the inaugural North-South cross country run for the Alabama All-Star Sports Week.

The races are scheduled for the Auburn-Montgomery course July 19, the morning prior to the boys and girls basketball games. All-Star Week officials have previously announced the teams for football, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball.

Shuler received a letter disclosing her selection.

“This just summarizes her entire career,” Ohatchee coach Casey Howell said. “We’ve had a program going on five years and she’s been all-county, all-sectional every year. And she’s just overcome so much.

“There’s probably a lot of times she could have given up – most people would have – but she never lost faith and kept persevering through it all.”

Shuler’s cross-country season last year was cut short by a medical scare, but through careful monitoring and medication she has been able to return to compete in basketball and indoor and outdoor track.

She finished 14th in the 3A girls 200 (29.80) and ninth in the javelin (84-9) at last week’s State Meet. She set the sectional record in the javelin (98-0). She is headed to the state decathlon Monday.

“I’ve seen a renewed focus in her because I think she’s ready to test it,” Howell said.

The problem first presented this past fall. She ran in the 28s at Cold Springs that Howell chalked up to an off performance and she collapsed shortly after finishing.

The concern moved to the next level at the Indians’ Terrortorium race in mid-October. Shuler ran 22:22.14 — eighth-place and a PR — three weeks removed from the Cold Springs episode, but almost immediately after crossing the finish line everything went black.

“It was just really scary,” she said.

That episode prompted a battery of tests and doctors visits. Her local doctor tested her iron levels, and then sent her to Birmingham to check her heart. Ultimately, she was discovered to have a weakened heart valve and it was determined the blood vessels in her legs weren’t functioning properly affecting her blood pressure, a condition common to long distance runners.

That put an end to her running season, sidelining her for the county, sectional and state championships. She played basketball and competed in indoor and outdoor track meets.

Things have been pretty normal since she’s returned. She did feel a little off at school a few days after returning, but has reported no other issues since. She diligently monitors her numbers and regulates the condition with medication.

“It’s just something I try not to think about it,” Shuler said. “I try to put my teammates ahead of myself and just think about the game. It’s just something I have to push through and not really let it get to me. It’s just knowing my limits, knowing what I can and can’t do. My body lets me know when something needs to happen.”

On the cover: Kourtney Shuler (12) returned from a medical scare during cross country to play for the Ohatchee basketball team. Despite the shortened schedule, she has been selected to run in the inaugural Alabama North-South all-star race.

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