Wrestler returns to mat
Concordia senior wrestler Leland Brincefield knows all about adversity. However, his intimate relationship with overcoming long odds has nothing to do with a 2-3 record on the mat or the ankle injury that might keep him out of the Cobbers' lineup...
Concordia senior wrestler Leland Brincefield knows all about adversity.
However, his intimate relationship with overcoming long odds has nothing to do with a 2-3 record on the mat or the ankle injury that might keep him out of the Cobbers' lineup for a few days.
Two years ago, Brincefield was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a chronic intestinal ailment that almost took his life.
Brincefield, from Wadena, Minn., began feeling the effects of the disease during a break from school during the winter of his sophomore year.
The pain in his side was almost unbearable. He couldn't eat and was constantly vomiting.
Doctors initially believed Brincefield to have appendicitis, a common diagnosis because the pain and tenderness is similar to Crohn's. Brincefield had emergency surgery to remove his appendix in Wadena and was released after a week in the hospital.
But his condition didn't improve.
Brincefield's mother wanted to take Leland back to the hospital and Leland wanted to tough it out.
"I didn't want to go back," Leland said. "But my mom put her foot down."
This time, doctors found stool in his abdomen. Brincefield was rushed from Wadena to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for another emergency surgery to remove a foot-long section of his small intestine.
Brincefield - who was 168-13 at Wadena-Deer Creek High School and captured a state title as a junior - said he was told he would have been dead if he had arrived at the hospital 24 hours later.
He was back a few weeks later for another surgery to clean up an abdominal infection.
The total: five weeks in a hospital bed, 5½ hours of surgery.
Brincefield's weight dropped from 132 pounds to 103.
"I wasn't a big guy to begin with," he said. "I didn't think I would ever wrestle again. I was just trying to gain weight and get healthy again."
Brincefield gradually gained the weight back and began feeling the urge to wrestle this summer.
But there was more bad news.
In June, he was diagnosed with anemia, an iron deficiency in the blood that causes extreme fatigue.
Brincefield was determined to get back on the mat, despite having to receive injections of vitamin B-12 to keep his energy up.
"My doctor asked me why I was doing this to my body," said Brincefield, who had been recruited by NCAA Division I Minnesota out of high school. "It's my last year. It's my last chance."
Earlier this season, Brincefield was pinned during his first match in three years.
He's not the wrestler he once was. But he's not the same person, either.
"Nothing much scares me anymore," Brincefield said. "What can't I go through now? Why beat myself down over losses. I know there will be other days that will be better."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562 or email@example.com