This week, wrestlers from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming were attacked by a grizzly bear while antler hunting on the Bobcat Houlihan Trail. Bear attacks often get media attention as they are rare and deadly events known to shock the public. However, this story is unique even among bear attack stories as it communicates the brotherhood, loyalty, and bravery shared by the group of college wrestlers.
The trip out to Bobcat Houlihan Trail began with four friends, all members of the Northwest College wrestling team. As their shed hunt ended, the group split up into pairs and headed back to their cars. They were apart for approximately ten minutes before the bear attack occurred.
While wrestlers Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry walked back together, Lowry sensed something was off and alerted his teammate. Lowry recounted the event the following way to KRTV:
I looked over at Kendall and I said, ‘There are bear signs everywhere.’ And right after I said that is when the crashing started happening in the trees. The only thing I had time to say was, ‘Bear, bear, bear!
As the bear lunged at Lowry’s neck, he shoved his arm into the bear’s mouth, which quickly broke his arm in a single bite. Lowry says he attempted to fight back, but the strength of the bear was overwhelming, throwing him down and “just doing whatever” to him.
Kendall Cummings did not simply stand by as his friend was being attacked. He shouted and threw anything he could find at the bear. When that did not work, Kendall put his life on the line. He grabbed the bear by the ear, pulling it off his friend. This successfully tore the bear off Brady. However, the bear switched his attention to Kendall and began to maul him.
After laying still, the bear eventually stopped its assault on Cummings. In another act of selflessness, Kendall Cummings stood back up and called out to his teammate, fearing that Brady was being attacked again. Unfortunately, the bear heard Cummings, and circled back on the college wrestler, attacking him once again.
Cummings played dead for a second time. He told Cowboy State Daily that he could “hear when his teeth would hit my skull, I could feel when he’d bite down on my bones and they’d kind of crunch.” In an amazing feat of self-control, Cummings laid still as he was gnawed on by the grizzly bear.
During the two attacks on Cummings, Brady Lowry, with one arm broken, used his phone to call the other two wrestlers they had gone out hunting with. The other two wrestlers, August Harrison and Orrin Jackson, set out in search of their two friends, despite the possibility they too could be attacked by the bear.
Eventually, all four teammates found one another. Jackson and Harrison carried Cummings and Lowry on their backs until they found emergency responders at the trailhead. Both Cummings and Lowry were hospitalized for their injuries and are expected to make a complete recovery. The four wrestling teammates have repeatedly told reporters that this event has solidified their bond as they all put their lives on the line for one another.
The head wrestling coach of Northwest College had the following to stay on the incident:
It was horrific. The boys exhibited courage that people can’t even imagine. They do love each other and we communicate constantly through group text and one of the things I always say to them is, you know, thank you for loving each other, and it paid off.
This story shows the power of bravery and brotherhood. If Cummings was not unwilling to tear the bear off Brady Lowry, it is likely that his friend would have died. Similarly, if Jackson and Harrison were not willing to head back out into the wilderness, risking encountering the bear themselves, it is possible the two wrestlers would have bled to death on the Bobcat Houlihan Trail. By risking their lives for one another, all four wrestlers survived the harrowing event.
Dave Brown is the Co-Founder and a writer for The Great American Syndicate. Follow him on Instagram at @davebrownlive
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