LE GRAND - Another chapter in the remarkable story that is Brennen Wears unfolded Tuesday when the East Marshall senior signed with the Indian Hills Community College cross country program.
Wears said he wants to be one of the Warriors' top runners. After persevering a bout with Hodgkin's disease, who's doubting him?
"Thirty-eight years, I don't think I've ever had a young man that's gone through the adversity like he has and still been able to produce like he has," said East Marshall cross country coach Kieth Osborn.
T-R PHOTO BY TOM RENAUD
East Marshall senior Brennen Wears, front center, will run cross country for Indian Hills Community College this fall. Pictured are his parents, Susan Holm and Will Wears, as well as EM assistant cross country coach Christian Grandgenett (back row, from left), Indian Hills coach Bill Gray, East Marshall athletic director and boys’ track coach Bob Berggren, and EM cross country coach Kieth Osborn.
Wears fought through chest pains during a sophomore season that culminated with a 27th-place finish at the 2006 district meet. Except they weren't just chest pains. X-rays taken that year showed a four-inch growth between Wears' heart and lungs - a malignant tumor.
Wears had Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma, and four rounds of chemotherapy and radiation followed. This spring marks two years that he's been cleared of the cancer; a recent checkup found that a couple of Wears' blood counts were low, but his doctor told him he shouldn't be feeling any lingering effects.
"Every time we go down there we get the OK and the clears," Wears said. "It's just nice to hear."
Wears got better each year, taking 11th at districts as a junior (just 4 seconds off the qualifying cutoff) and 10th last fall to qualify individually for state. The Mustangs also made it as a team, placing sixth in Class 2A, and Wears had East Marshall's second fastest time and 43rd best overall, finishing in 17 minutes, 27 seconds.
"If you look at what his goals are, he's a kid that likes to go fast - in the air and on the ground," said Indian Hills coach Bill Gray.
The celestial part of that equation is what led Wears to Indian Hills in the first place. He plans to major in aviation and pre-engineering.
"Brennen actually contacted me, believe it or not," Gray said. "He was looking at the aviation program and then found that we had a cross country team ... I started doing a little research into him and saw his story. My reaction? Awesome. And how I would like to take that and help him get to another level."
Gray guides a Warriors program that's entering its third year of existence. The men's team placed fifth out of seven teams at the Region XI championships last season.
"I think honestly with his attitude alone he'll be able to be my top runner," said Gray. "If I can give him some tips over the summer and then get him into the fall, I'm looking at him to be a leader on our team. We will make him stronger, and it's really his attitude.
"He's going to fit our team's personality like you wouldn't believe."
Wears sums up his approach to adversity with three words: "Mind over matter," he said. "Just putting forth a good attitude toward everything. It just makes everything better. You run faster, practice better when you have a good outlook on everything."
Added Osborn, "Tremendous heart. He understands that in order to be successful he's got to pay the price. I don't have any question that he's going to be very successful at the college level."