All’s well that ends, ‘Wells’

Star athletes Jarek and Kasen Wells aren't just brothers - they're best friends

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SV Baseball

Brothers Kasen (center left) and Jarek Wells (center right) pose for end-of-year photos. The two share a last name, but they're "more than brothers."

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

It’s not often the world finds extraordinary talent. It’s even rarer to find extraordinary people. And for two of them to come from the same womb… well, that sounds downright preposterous. But it’s true.

Jarek and Kasen Wells have always loved sports. First it was soccer, then basketball. All the while, their love for the games they played grew. But their connection stretches beyond games. They’re brothers, yes, but even more than that, they’re best friends.

“Kasen? He’s been great,” Jarek said. He’s been such a great brother to me and a great family member, and honestly he’s grown to be my best friend, especially these last couple years getting to play ball with him, it’s been awesome. We’ve grown really, really close.”

“In my eyes, Jarek’s my best friend,” Kasen said. “We have a really, really close relationship, even for being brothers. I mean, there’s nothing he’s ever done that I don’t know about and anything that I’ve ever done that he doesn’t know about. We push each other a lot [and] we’re always holding each other accountable, whether it’s sports, making good choices out of school, our walk with God, everything. We’re always there for each other, just making sure we’re being smart, doing the right thing.”

They weren’t always so tight-knight. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that the two truly connected. Kasen made varsity football, but as a freshman, couldn’t drive himself home. But Jarek could, and it was those very car rides that built their bond.

“Early on, they bickered a lot,” said Kristen Wells, the boys’ mother. “So it was kind of irritating because you never could sit through a meal quietly. And all of a sudden, when Kasen was a freshman and Jarek was a junior, Kasen played varsity football. Obviously he was not able to drive, and so Jarek started picking him up right after the games, and he would take him wherever the guys were gonna go eat. And even though some of the football guys offered to do that, it just became kind of a thing for Jarek.

“So that probably was a big turning point in their relationship, is when Kasen relied on Jarek for some things, and out of that they became more than brothers, the became really good friends. And ever since that time, their relationship has just grown to where they confide in one another, they correct one another in love, things that you just need to check yourself on. And they’ve kept each other accountable, so they can go hang out at places and make good decisions because they have one another to lean on. And so it’s really grown, probably just out of that freshman year that Kasen played football.”

All of that love is infectious, and has put the two in lockstep on more than one occasion. For one, both quit pursuing football as underclassmen – although the circumstances surrounding the decisions were completely divergent.

As a sophomore, Jarek played JV football. He was content with that, and planned to return. He knew that baseball was his future, but football was another avenue for him to hang out with his friends. But pretty soon, his gridiron exploits began affecting his baseball product. And that’s when he realized there was a problem.

That spring, baseball had a Friday night playoff game. Football had spring practice that same day, at 6:30 a.m. The coaches told Jarek he didn’t have to go full-contact, but he had to at least show up. He did, but it would prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“I noticed in that game late at night that I was tired,” said Jarek, who graduated today. “I was very, very tired, I needed sleep. I had been up for like 16 hours and I was like, ‘I can’t  keep doing this.’ 

“I realized that I loved baseball way too much. And football was great, but I think it was holding me back a little bit. And so I decided, not in that moment but that was kind of the last straw, that if I really wanted to be serious about baseball then I would have to put all my energy into it.”

Since then, Jarek’s baseball career has taken off. His junior season, his first with a true emphasis on pitching, saw him compile an 11-2 record between school and summer ball. But to truly take the next step, he needed to gain velocity on his pitches, as his fastball sat just 79-83 MPH. Enter Colter Bostick, a private coach who’s been working with Jarek since 2016.

“We worked to find a balance between developing pitches that had really good movement and also trying to optimize his velocity,” Bostick said of his protégé. “He made some jumps but then went back to the resting threshold, which began to frustrate him… So this fall we started to see that the physical maturity was starting to match the natural strength, and we began harnessing his intent and reinforced the dynamic movements of his mechanics. In November he topped 86 [MPH], December 87, January 88, March 89, April 92.”

Before his senior season, Jarek had a clear goal: be an ace. Well, mission accomplished.

“Looking forward for this season, I really want to be a shutdown pitcher, no questions asked,” he said before the season began. “I’m hoping to [be] a no-doubt, ‘oh, Jarek’s pitching, we’re gonna win this game.’ And that’s kind of the role I really want to fill this year.”

And he filled that role with room to spare. In three starts, Jarek went 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA and threw two complete games (and was an out away from a third). In his 17.2 innings of work, he struck out 22, allowed just 18 baserunners and finished with an ERA+ of 359.

But there’s another brother whose post-gridiron feats shan’t be forgotten. Kasen, who quit football after contributing on varsity as a freshman, racked up accolades on the diamond his first season as well: MaxPreps Freshman All-American Outfielder, THSBCA Third Team All-State Outfielder, San Antonio Newcomer of the Year, Unanimous First-Team All-District 26-6A Outfielder. Before his virtual trophy case could spill over, however, he had to get through the fall.

“I’ve always loved football,” Kasen said. “I still do love football, I was at every game this year. But [I was] just making decisions for my future. I’m not a huge kid, and in football, size is a huge thing. You don’t see many 5-foot-10 receivers running around. I mean, there’s a few, but that’s their passion. They love football.”

He prayed about it, talked it over with his family, and ultimately decided to quit. Jarek was a big factor – his experience with the process was invaluable. But ultimately, the great football experiment ended earlier than he expected.

“[I told the coaches] after one practice [during the season],” Kasen said. “I wasn’t going (practicing) ‘cuz we were about to play [New Braunfels], and it was the deciding game whether we went to the playoffs or not. I’d kinda rolled up my ankle the week before, and I just did not want to be hurt, or any way tweaked up at all, going into the game, ‘cuz I knew it was a huge game. So I wasn’t going, I wasn’t running or anything like that. 

“After that practice, Coach [Shinn] came up to me and he was like, ‘is everything OK?’ And at that point I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to quit, so I was like, ‘Coach, honestly, I’m not sure if I want to play football anymore. I’m not sure if that’s what I need to focus on for my future.’”

The coaches gave less resistance than he expected, and said they supported him. But Kasen still wishes he’d handled it better.

“Honestly, I wish I would have approached it a little bit better,” he said. “I kinda just snuck it up on the coaches, and I wish I didn’t. I wish I would’ve let them know I was thinking about it. And when I did start thinking about it, I wish I would’ve just told ‘em, ‘hey, I’m thinking about quitting.’”

In the end, picking the sport they loved the most worked out pretty alright for both brothers. At the plate, Jarek slashed .429/.481/.952, and his four homers in 42 at bats were good for third in class 6A. Meanwhile, his younger counterpart put up an obscene .519 OBP, and made it count on the basepaths, using his speed to successfully swipe bags in seven of eight tries.

Despite the abrupt ending, this season was quite successful for the team as a whole, which finished 11-3 and has already sent six starters to the college ranks (not to mention Kasen, junior shortstop Ryan Ruff and senior second baseman Trey Hoech, all of whom have next-level potential).

And yet even on a team full of stars, Jarek and Kasen managed to shine. But that ending still sticks with them, inked into their mind as a chorus of ‘what-ifs.’

“It was very, very tough,” Jarek said. “Thankfully, God’s blessed me with a very, very happy life, I haven’t had to deal with too much hardship, so this would probably be at the top of one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. It was very, very tough to come to the realization that I had played my last game and I didn’t even know it. But I will say that it helped me truly appreciate things in the moment, rather than taking them for granted, because I was so focused on, ‘can’t wait for district. We’re gonna go and we’re gonna dominate,’ and then, all of a sudden, none of that even happened. 

“We were playing a game, and we were all joking around, like, ‘ah, this corona thing sucks. We have to play Clemens three weeks from now.’ … Then it got pushed back again, and then slowly you started to realize that as the news was going off, and all these things were going off, ‘we’re not gonna get to play.’ 

“And so the governor had that announcement… in the middle of April, and we were hoping [he would let us play]. And I even talked to some of my buddies on the school team, like, ‘he’s definitely gonna open Texas back up, we’re gonna go back to school, we’re gonna get to play.’ And I was blown away when Governor Abbott said that we were not gonna be able to go back to school, and I knew that was the end.”

But in his moment of suffering, Jarek found the Lord. And what was once one of the “hardest things” he’d ever experienced became an Ebenezer, a remembering place, for him to thank God.

“That was one of the things, in turn, that helped me look to the Lord,” he said. “I chose, rather than just mope and grope about it, that I was gonna accept that this was part of God’s plan, and it helped me grow in my faith. So it’s another one of those things where it sucks in the moment, but looking back at it, I would not be in the same place now as I would be if it didn’t happen to me. And I know it was only four or five weeks ago, but I’ve grown so much closer to the Lord, and so much closer to my mom and dad, than I have ever been. And from that perspective, it has been maybe the best thing that’s happened in my life.”

In Romans 8:18, Paul tells the church in Rome, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” a sentiment that Jarek has found the freedom to express, even in the difficult times.

“That’s a perfect verse for this situation,” he said. “I was devastated in the moment. And, oddly enough – this was so ironic – I had just opened my Bible for the first time in months. And I hadn’t even started to read yet, and that’s when we got a text in our group chat that Governor Abbott had cancelled the school seasons. So I was sitting there looking at my open Bible, about to start reading the book of Luke for the first time. And I was sitting there and I was just like, ‘this is so weird.’ Because I felt like, ‘oh, I’m reading the Bible! God, you gotta do something good for me!’ But I had to realize this is all part of His plan. 

“And that moment, it helped me with the grieving much more than I would’ve done before, with resorting to other things. So I’m so grateful that God had me in that place, in that time when I found out, because it was suffering, but it’s always worked out for me to [where] the worst things that happen in my life tend to become some of the best things in my life… And God works in such mysterious ways, but I’m so grateful looking back at these things that have happened from that, that He’s worked out for me.”

Jarek’s life has been changed by his newfound relationship with God. And those changes haven’t just been internal; his parents have noticed them, as well.

“He handled [the cancelled season] way better than we anticipated,” Kristen said. “And we knew that God had a plan. But to hear him say that, it is really encouraging on this side of it… We thought he was really going to be, not lost but broken for a little bit. Because he had such high expectations and such big goals… and he wanted to do it with his brother. I mean, this was the last year they were gonna get to play together as far as we know. And so the way he handled it, it makes sense that that’s why.”

“He’s way more patient and understanding with himself and others,” said Jeremy Wells, Jarek and Kasen’s father. “He’s mentioned how even though the high school season didn’t go as planned, he knows God will work it all out… [he spends] more time studying the Word, which he does pretty much daily.”

That faith aspect of the brothers’ relationship is critical. It’s the building block upon which everything else rests.

“Their faith is the most important thing that they have,” Kristen said. “It’s their center. And it’s hard sometimes. Because of pressure and because of time; because you’re tired and don’t want to spend time in the Bible; because you’re at a tournament [and] miss the fellowship on Sunday. But it’s their core, and it’s the thing that they’ve always come back to… when you feed yourself well [spiritually], you hope that the overflow of your life is the things you fed yourself with. And that’s how we’ve seen their interaction.”

But that’s not just the sentiment of outsiders: the boys themselves view it as a crucial part not just of their relationship, but their lives.

“We’ve grown up our whole lives [going] to church every Sunday,” Kasen said. “We’ve both gone on mission trips, camps, stuff like that… We always make sure we’re reading the Bible together and just holding each other accountable for that, just making sure we’re not doing anything to make people drift [away]. We try to bring everybody around us closer to God with our actions and stuff like that, you know, try to spread positivity and spread faith.”

For a while, some kids will be Christians simply because it’s what their parents believe. But when they grow old enough to understand the Bible and make that faith their own… well, that’s all their parents really want.

“For sure [I’m most proud of] their faith,” said Jeremy Wells, Jarek and Kasen’s father. “I mean, without a doubt. They’ve grown a lot in high school in their walk with the Lord, and that’s by far the most important thing to us.”

Still, the connections between the pair continue. Or at least, they could. Jarek is headed to pitch and play in the outfield at Midland Junior College, where Bostick also played ball. Zac Reininger and Jason LaRue, Smithson Valley alums and major-leaguers who work with the Jarek and Kasen, also took the juco route (Northeast Texas Community College and Hill College, respectively). And, although it’s too early to tell, Kasen could be headed down a similar path.

“I’m really young,” he said. “I haven’t thought about committing anytime soon… I’ve heard different stuff about people going D1, and it’s hard for a freshman to play at a D1 [school]. Going juco, you’re not guaranteed to play your freshman year, but you have a really good shot.”

The junior college route also offers more opportunities for players, like the Wells’, who want to continue on to Major League Baseball. It offers more flexibility in leaving for the draft, making it easier to maximize leverage (and thus earnings).

“You’d be surprised at how many guys in the big leagues… have gone to juco and either gotten drafted or transferred up,” Kasen said. “I really don’t feel pressure to commit or make a decision any time soon, because in the big picture, I am still young, and I don’t know what to do. A big part of it for me is, I really want to play my freshman year. So going into it, I’m really not opposed to going juco at all. And I don’t have a school of dreams. I never really had one. And I’d have to really, really like a school to commit any time soon.”

Whenever he does decide to commit, though, Kasen can go pretty much wherever he wants. He first received recruiting interest during his freshman season, from a little school in Norman, Oklahoma.

“It started last year,” Kasen said. “It was before coach [Alan] Hill left, and he came up to me and was like, ‘hey, go grab your phone.’ And this was after we had just beat some team, and it was a pretty big win… I went over and I was like, ‘uh, what’s up, why do you need my phone?’ I was kinda freaked out. And he was like, ‘I’m sending you the contact for my buddy over at OU (Oklahoma).’ And I was like, ‘oh my gosh.’ I never really thought about talking to any colleges or anything my freshman year. It came out of the blue for me, but ever since then, it’s skyrocketed.”

‘Skyrocketed’ is a good word for it. All of a sudden, Kasen seems like the hottest commodity on the market. He’s jumped up to 44th overall in PBR Texas’ recruiting rankings, including fifth among outfielders. Not to mention all of the big-time scouts drooling over his film.

“Back when the season was happening, Kasen was talking to a very, very big portion of the Power 5 schools in the country,” Bostick said. “He was talking to a lot of people, and a lot of people had him on their radar. They were all kind of paying attention to what he was doing… So he could have opportunities at any school he wants to. It’s a matter of finding the school that best works for him.”

Although Kasen’s route to the next level has been fairly easy, Jarek’s path was a bit different. Before his junior year, he pitched at a showcase in San Antonio. Scouts from Incarnate Word and Clarendon College showed interest, and New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe poked around. But an Oklahoma-esque offer never materialized.

“At the time I was hoping to go to the biggest school that I could,” he said. “But as things went on, and I realized how good the junior college route was, that’s when I switched over my mindset to that side of the [recruiting] game.”

Before heading up to visit Clarendon, Jarek called the coaches at Midland to inquire about a workout. (They’d shown previous interest, but wanted to see him in person.) The experience blew him away.

“I loved the school,” he said. “I was so happy leaving there, and they ended up offering me after the workout, they really liked me… This may sound weird, but I actually talked to a lot of guys who had committed, and my older buddies that are already in college, and they just said ‘you’re gonna leave a place and you’re gonna have a gut feeling that this is where you wanna go.’ And I didn’t believe ‘em, I was like, ‘whatever dude, that doesn’t make sense.’ But I actually felt that leaving Midland. There was just this feeling in my gut, ‘I can go play baseball here.’ And it felt like home.”

Another big factor in his decision was the coaches’ willingness to let him pitch and hit. Someday, he may have to choose. But he wants to try to keep it going as long as possible.

“I wanna two-way for as long as I can,” Jarek said. “And I hope I’m able to… Colter sees me specifically as a pitcher… But I see myself also as a hitter. And so, I would hope to be able to two-way for as long as I can. But, if one day I wake up and I can’t hit the college-level pitching that I’m facing anymore, or I can’t pitch against college-level hitting that I’m facing, I would be totally fine with going on as just a pitcher [or] just a hitter. So I hope to do both as long as I can, but at the end of the day, I just love the sport. I would do anything to keep playing.”

Luckily for him, he likely has a long road ahead of him. His power will only improve as he develops, and his pitching… well, just check out this two-seam fastball/slider combo:

Or this slurve from March:

Jarek was a bit of a late bloomer. But Bostick thinks that Kasen, who just completed his sophomore season, could join him at the next level right now.

“He’s got a lot of tools,” said Bostick, who serves as Kasen’s recruiting coordinator. “The bat will play at the college level right now, the speed will absolutely play that at the college level right now, he has a very good arm – as a sophomore, he’s pulling the ball down at 90 to 91 MPH from the outfield, which for his size is exceptional – [and] he’s a plus defender. So he’s got a lot of things that say, yes, he’s gonna be a stud.”

That speed really is something to behold. Prep Baseball Report clocked him at a 6.87-second 60-yard dash. Which is impressive, especially for his age – for reference, the average high school sophomore runs a 7.56 60. And he earned every bit of that 6.87:

Kasen has always been fast. By the time he turned 11, his father couldn’t keep up anymore.

“We used to play football in the front yard all the time,” Jeremy said. “And when he was about 11 or 12, I could not cover him anymore. I mean, I just couldn’t do it. He was gonna just run right past me. And so I remember the first time. I’m in the yard, and Jarek threw a deep bomb to him, and Kasen just ran past me and scored. And I would guess he was about 11 at the time, and I was going, ‘OK, this is not fun anymore.’ And then, as they got older, I can’t work out with them anymore. They’re just on another level.”

It was a sort of bittersweet moment for Jeremy. On one hand, his competitive side was upset about losing a race to an 11-year-old. But mostly, he was just a proud papa.

“The competitive side of me hated it, and then the father loved it,” he said. “You love to see that they’re getting better and better at what they love. And they really always worked hard, so it’s fun to see progress, whether that be running, throwing, hitting, in the weight room, wherever. So there’s some pride in seeing ‘em continue to get better.”

For Jeremy, and the whole family, watching Jarek and Kasen play together was a dream come true. But it didn’t happen the way they’d expected.

“I was really hoping to see my boys play together one year in high school, meaning I was hoping Kasen could make varsity when he was a sophomore,” Jeremy said. “So when he was able to make varsity as a freshman in baseball, and to have that year watching them was just a real thrill for all of us. And especially now, in hindsight, because this season ended up being lost. So I think that was a surprise, but also just a really, really fun time for all of us.”

But that’s not to say that every day was sunshine and rainbows. Despite their talent, the boys are (obviously) not perfect. And when one has a great game and the other tanks, well, it can make for an awkward car ride home.

“You basically know that if they would both ever have a good game at the same time, we had to celebrate,” Jeremy said. “Baseball beats you up so much that rarely did they both play really, really well. So it was usually, you’ve got one kid that’s mad and the other kid’s happy, or they’re both mad or, every once in a while, they’re both happy. 

“But [watching them play together] was the most fun. We had a blast just sittin’ back and watching and supporting ‘em. And it was very nerve-wracking too. Games are a blast and they’re also exhausting, ‘cuz you’re just kinda sittin’ there, just hoping that your kid does the best that they can. It was a lot of fun.”

Both boys are trying their hardest to make baseball their profession. And when their playing career ends, whenever that may be, they have the same Plan B: learning real estate with their father. “Blowing it up,” as Kasen would say, although he presumably wasn’t talking about actual explosives.

Jarek and Kasen Wells have always been connected at the hip. Not in a literal sense; that would likely hamper their athletic pursuits. But from the womb to football to faith to baseball to any and all future endeavors, the pair have always been – and will always be – friends.

“I can honestly say I have never seen a set of brothers that actually enjoy being around each other [that much],” Bostick said. “Working together, pushing each other, joking around – like, nothing is ever taken personally. It’s all a competition but it’s all out of love. And it’s really, really cool to see.”

“He’s such a great kid,” Jarek said of his brother. “He’s very, very, very humble, and he works really hard. He doesn’t showboat a lot, especially after having such a good freshman year last year, and playing football and baseball… at the varsity level. A lot of guys would’ve let it get to their heads, and I don’t think he did at all… That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from him, is to be humble. He’s taught me a lot when it comes to that, so that’s been really cool.”

Now their paths will diverge, at least for a time. Jarek is off to Midland, where he’ll pursue his dreams of professional baseball. And Kasen is here, at Smithson Valley, preparing to juggle SAT prep and lead a suddenly-young baseball team into an unprecedented season. For the first time in their lives, they’ll be physically distanced. But their relationships with one another, and God, are as strong as ever.

“I think it’ll be great for the both of us for our futures,” Kasen said. “We’ve always had one another to push each other, and now we’re going to be forced to be independent with our extra work… I’m excited for what’s to come.” 

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