Brown's comeback exceeding all expectations

May 7—ANDERSON — As the calendar pages flipped from winter 2022 to spring 2023, there was plenty of reason for optimism ahead of Tremayne Brown's junior track-and-field season for Anderson High School.

As a sophomore, he advanced to the IHSAA state finals in the high jump and in the 110-meter hurdles after winning sectional and regional championships in the former. Brown was something of an overnight sensation, piling up successes in his first season that included the Madison County hurdles title, a podium finish in the high jump at state and being named the THB Sports Boys Track-and-Field Athlete of the Year.

He also won 18 matches as a wrestler, sending Brown into the track season on something of a high note.

"My hopes were trying to focus on beating my (personal record) and focusing on making it back to state," he said. "But that didn't happen."

For Brown, clearing a bar that is ever on the rise is what he does.

In early April, he approached the mat, launched off his right foot and flopped his way into his school's record books in the high jump with a height of 6-foot-7 at the Muncie Central Relays.

It was somehow fitting the accomplishment, which also put him among the very best in the state this season, came at the home of Anderson's North Central Conference rivals.

After all, it was almost exactly a year earlier at home against the Bearcats his sports career very nearly came to a sudden and gruesome end.

APRIL 12, 2023

Brown was situating himself at the start line for the race, much like he had done so many times before. Crouching at the line, he looked up and saw 110 meters of track and 10 hurdles, each standing 42 inches tall, between him and the finish line.

If he had looked to his right, he may have noticed his mother — Mandy Brown — watching from near the top of the Collier Field stands, while to the left, his teammates on the infield were ready to cheer him on. But he did not notice any of that. All he was aware of was the corridor in front of him and the competitors in the nearby lanes, preparing to challenge him for the next 14 or 15 seconds.

"I remember thinking — I usually don't think too much — and imagining going over the hurdles," he said. "It started, and I was right next to (Muncie Central's Leo Boyd)."

With each command from the starter, Brown's muscles tensed and he drew a deep breath to add the extra ounce of fuel his legs need to drive him forward for the next 110 meters.

The pistol fired, and Brown exploded from the starter's blocks. Sensing a battle with Boyd, Brown accelerated, clearing each of the first nine hurdles with grace and ease, continuing a neck-and-neck race for the finish line.

Then disaster struck.

Brown's foot clipped the final hurdle, throwing the junior off balance and sideways. He tried to correct his gait with the first step, but when his left foot came down, the explosion of pain was immediate as Brown crumpled in a heap on the track.

"I knew instantly," he said. "I saw a little bit of white, and when I saw it bent, I knew it was my ankle or something in my leg. I was wearing a black sock, and (the bone) cut through my sock. There wasn't supposed to be anything white down there."

His mother, not unaccustomed to seeing her son or other competitors trip over a hurdle, knew almost immediately something was seriously wrong this time.

"I was at the very top of the bleachers, and I was in a surgery boot," Mandy Brown said. "One of the other moms yelled for me and said, 'It's bad.' I took off down there, and he just kept saying, 'Don't take it off. Don't take it off.' I could see something coming through his socks, but I didn't realize it was his bone."

She arrived at her son's side and saw why there was some urgency about getting him medical attention.

She was horrified to see her son's foot was pointing backward and the jagged ends of his shattered tibia and fibula had broken through the skin and cut all the way through his socks.

Mandy was told to go ahead to Community Hospital and her son would be headed that way once he was loaded into an ambulance.

While she arrived shortly before her son, the brief wait felt agonizingly long.

"It was 15 minutes, but it felt like five hours," she said. "They said it was the worst track injury they had seen. It was to the point the nurses wanted to take pictures of it. It was that bad."

This was no garden variety — if there is such a thing — broken leg. The double-fracture occurred just above the ankle and tore through the skin. Doctors were concerned about more than a leg that needed to be reset.

Once stabilized in Anderson, Brown was immediately transferred to Indianapolis, where the broken bones were set and — at 5 a.m. — he was ushered into trauma surgery to repair the injuries.

After three hours of surgery, Brown emerged with a steel plate inserted to hold his shattered bones together and was in the intensive care unit for three days.

"That first day was terrible, probably the worst pain I'd ever felt after they'd put it back in and the medicine was wearing off," he said.


Brown faced a long road ahead. Not just to return to competition, but just to be able to walk normally. The doctors were concerned about the possibility of permanent nerve damage and questioned whether Brown could return to athletics.

In fact, Brown and his mother were told it was possibly a career-ending injury.

For Brown, there was no doubt he would be back and he would do so on his own terms and in the most economical of ways.

After attending a handful of rehab sessions, Brown chose to utilize what he had learned from the physical therapists as well as tactics he borrowed from YouTube videos to convert the family home into an amateur rehab clinic.

"He only went to physical therapy a couple times. The rest he did himself," Mandy Brown said.

It was a process that continued into the ensuing school year.

Although he skipped his senior wrestling season because of the plate in his leg, Brown never stopped working to get all the way back. In addition to his solo efforts at home, Brown added work with new Anderson track-and-field coach DeShaun Holder to his regimen.

"It was an emergency surgery and very bad ankle break," Holder said. "We've been working with Tremayne a lot in the weight room trying to keep that ankle strong."

Once the plate was removed from Brown's leg earlier this year and he was cleared to return to action, there was the matter of getting into shape for the season both physically and mentally.

He decided not to run in hurdles, choosing instead to focus on the high jump.

That decision has paid dividends. In addition to the school record he set in Muncie, Brown also won his first Madison County high jump title with a modest 6-0 height in the rain, captured the NCC championship at 6-4 and cleared 6-6 Monday when he celebrated senior night with first-place finish in both the high jump and the long jump at 19-0.

He will enter the postseason ranked No. 1 in the high jump in both the Mount Vernon sectional as well as the Pike regional and fifth overall in the state.

"This has pushed me to want to do more, to feel like I can do more," Brown said. "My goals weren't too hefty, just win the meets for now then start competing against myself.

"Now it's definitely to get back to state."

His immediate future will be determined in the coming weeks as he begins his postseason.

But life after high school is looking up as Brown recently received a scholarship offer to continue his track career at Vincennes.

While school is a part of life Brown could do without, he treasures the time he has had in competition. The opportunity at Vincennes could also be a pathway to bigger and better things for Brown as he looks to his own future.

"I don't really like school, but I love track, though," he said.

The family is not sure it could have seen this coming a year ago as Brown struggled to recover from such a devastating injury.

"Every time he jumps, I'm just floored," Mandy Brown said. "I get emotional just thinking from a year ago what he went through, from not being able to touch any part of his leg or put any pressure on it to back and better than he was when he went to state. That should show him that nothing is unreachable for him."

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.