Notre Dame Prep distance standout qualified for D2 state finals
By MARVIN GOODWIN
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SOUTH LYON >> There were hugs and hearty congratulations for state qualifiers at Saturday’s Division 2 track and field regional at South Lyon East.
But the most heartfelt and emotional ones were reserved for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Brendan Fraser, who continues a courageous journey which he hopes will lead him back to how he once was.
Fraser, an honor student and one of the top distance runners in the state, had already signed to compete for the University of Notre Dame. He was Oakland County meet cross country champion, regional champion and placed second at the Division 2 state cross country finals. Last season he and former teammate Nathan Mylenek, now competing for the University of Iowa, formed one of the state’s top distance tandems.
However, a 10-inch surgical scar from Fraser’s sternum to his waistband, revealed when he lifted his running jersey, told the story of a traffic mishap in January which nearly took his life. “I was in an accident … I lost a lot of training and I couldn’t run anything for six weeks,” said Fraser, who had also been on the wrestling team.
His grandfather, Ed DeChambeau, tells it best. “He (Fraser) had a lacerated spleen, lacerated liver, a broken vertebrae, four broken ribs and a collapsed lung,” said DeChambeau. “I only ended up with 11 broken ribs.”
How did that happen?
“I was driving,” he said. “It was terrible.”
Fraser spent nearly a week in intensive care. DeChambeau said there was a question of whether Fraser would make it through alive. But he did, using the tenacity, the stamina and the fortitude of the long distance runner to help him pull through.
Slowly but surely, he got better.
When his training finally resumed, he was a long way from the conditioning which made him an elite distance runner. He ran his first competition only a few weeks ago.
At the regional meet, he trailed younger brother Nick, and Avondale’s Ben Zaremba most of the race as the trio ran in a tight pack until Brendan Fraser took the lead and led the trio to the finish line in 9:43.17, with only two seconds separating the threesome. All three qualified for the state finals.
Last year, Fraser clocked 9:14 at the Golden Triangle Invitational, an indication of how far he has to go.
Afterward, his regional race was assessed. “I don’t think I’m strong enough to go out hard yet,” he said, as he accepted hugs and congratulations from family and friends.
He, Nick and Zaremba milled around and posed for photos. The hugs meant a lot.“Feeling good, I’m pretty happy to run, it’s a good day,” said Brendan Fraser.
Indeed, about five months ago he was laid up in a hospital in bad shape. Now, he’s making a return to the state finals. The recovery continues and things are going well.
“I feel pretty thankful,” Fraser said. “One thing is living after the crash. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
Next up for Fraser is Friday’s Oakland County track and field championships at Novi High School, as he continues his comeback.
Last Updated: 5/25/2017 1:04:49 PM EST