Scott Brennan is blind, but that doesn't dampen his enthusiam for athletics. So the 16-year-old Laurel High School junior went out for wrestling and track and works just as hard as the other team members.
"Even if I wasn't blind, I'd want to be number one," said Brennan, who lost his sight in an accident when he was 11 years old. "That's the type of athlete I am, always trying to be number one. Never be a quitter. Once you quit you lose, once you lose, you quit.
"I don't want to be looked at as something amazing. I just want to be looked at as a good athlete who's trying hard."
Brennan, a 16-year-old junior at Laurel High School, competes on the wrestling and track teams at Laurel and also is a skilled swimmer and diver.
He finished third last March in the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA) national competition at Western Illinois University in Macomb, where he was clocked in 14-09 in the two-mile event. The winning time was 12-07, a world record, and Brennan, who has since improved to 13-42, plans to shatter that mark.
"I plan to take the world two-mile record pretty soon," said Brennan, who live at 6706 McCahill Ter. in Laurel. "It's just a matter of working hard. It may take a while, but that's my goal right right now . . . All it takes is work. I don't think the other (blind) guys work as hard as I do."
During his sophomore year, Brennan decided to try for a shot-put Position at Laurel at the urging of his friend Brad Holmes, who also competed in that event for the Spartans. After wrestling for the Laurel junior varsity during the winter, Brennan started running the two-mile event, where he apparently has found his niche.
As a wrestler during the past season, Brennan compiled a 1-2 record, closing his campaign with a 23-second pin of a 132-pound opponent from Bowie High School. Since then, he has competed with some success in several invitational wrestling tournaments.
Brennan runs four miles every morning at 6:15 p.m. with his coach Russ Sellers, and another four miles every afternoon with a teammate, usually Bill Capps or Francisco Campillo. He is able to run by holding onto the arm of a sighted guide.
"On the street, I get quire a few strange looks, me running along with this cat, holding his elbow," he said. "But at school I proved myself. I don't really want to say proved myself, but that's the way it is."
"I really had no visions of him being a runner, I'll be honest with you," Sellers said. "It wasn't until he ran the Illinois (USABA) meet that I entertained the thought of helping him become a great athlete. He's just an individual. He's got a great attitude. The thing that impresses me the most about Scotty is his independence. He doesn't ask for help . . . (but) he'll accept help. He doesn't have a problem with that."
Capps, a sophomore who has run with Brennan the most considers it a privilege to serve as guide. "It encouraged me." Capps said. "We don't talk about it much, but I admire Scott. He doesn't let it stop him. He just keeps stroking."
Sellers is working on a tether method of running, where Brennan would be attached to his guide by means of a rope tied to his waist and one of the guide's hands. This would allow Brennan to use both hands in his running motion, which probably would help him build more speed.
The one time Sellers and Brennan tried the tether method, Brennan came too close to his coach and tripped. So Sellers will experiment with a piece of rubber hose on the rope so Brennan would be given a signal if he moved too close to his guide.
"Another useful effect of the hose is if he misbehaves, I can take it off the rope and beat him with it," quipped Sellers, who appears to have a lighthearted, wisecracking relationship with his student.
Brennan is pointing to the North American Games for the blind which will be held July 30 through Aug. 2 at Northern Illinois University in Decatur. But despite his quest for the two-mile records, Brennan insists his persistence is only for personal satisfaction.
"I'm not an exceptional athlete. I plan to be," he said. "I plan to be more of a contender now in sighted high school sports. I'm not out to show that blind athletes can do this or that. I'm just out for the average high school kicks."