Pro outfielder turns track star

Brennan May
New track and field runner Brennan May. Photo credit: Emily Teague

After a career that’s spanned several states and multiple sports, Brennan May just may have found a team that can take full advantage of his natural abilities: Chico State men’s track and field.

May is a new track runner for Chico State, and is one with quite a past. Born in Fayetteville, Georgia, he was a natural athlete at a young age, playing his first baseball season at age 6.

May started his semi-pro career when he was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011. Playing for the Reds, May was a standout in the minor leagues with 8 home runs and a .274 batting average. Despite these numbers, the Reds cut May on July 4, 2012.

May then went to Arizona to try out for multiple teams during Major League Baseball spring training. There, he recorded a stunning 6.4 second 60-yard sprint at the Dodgers tryout but didn’t make the roster.

He said he grew frustrated, repeatedly hearing, “You’re better than most of the prospects on our rosters, but we have to respect our scouts.”

After a tough few weeks in Arizona, May headed to New Mexico to play minor league for the Taos Blizzards and had continued success with baseball. It was a changing point in his athletic career.

Brennan may.jpg
Before running track at Chico State, May played minor league baseball for the Taos Blizzards in New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Brennan May.

“The caliber of competition was lower, (and) the fact that I was going backwards in my career left me unmotivated,” May said.

After leaving baseball behind, May planned to walk onto the football team at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, but the football team decided to deny any walk-on players that season. Having never run track in his entire life, May decided to join the track team there.

In his first season, May achieved major improvements. At the beginning of the season, he ran a 12.38 in the 100-meter sprint and improved by 1.31 seconds by the end of the year to an impressive 11.07.

Most track stars try to improve by .3 to .5 seconds a year, May said. Improving by over one second in just one season shows the sky is the limit for May on the track.

May reached out to Oliver Hanf, the head coach of Chico State’s men’s track and field team, and that led him come to Chico State.

“His story was compelling and what it told me is that this guy is a strong person,” Hanf said.

He expects May to have a positive impact on the whole team, Hanf said.

“I get the sense he’s going to be a team leader from the start,” Hanf said. “(He’s) brand new to Chico State, but demonstrating leadership skills, which excites me. He’s going to be a great addition to our team as a team player.”

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports.