Less than three months removed from being mauled by a grizzly bear in the northern Wyoming wilderness, a pair of Northwest College wrestlers are back on the mat.
Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry were attacked by a grizzly Oct. 15 while hiking in the Shoshone National Forest outside Cody. Cummings was able to rip the bear off Lowry, who was attacked first, leading to a head-to-head showdown with the carnivorous beast himself.
For his heroics, Cummings took the brunt of the bruin’s assault.
Not Down For Long
Cummings, an Evanston native, received 60 staples in his head and plastic surgery to address large lacerations to his face, major lacerations to his left arm and leg were sutured, and he had stitches along his right hand and leg.
Lowry suffered a broken arm and lacerations to his back, shoulders, right leg and thigh. His broken arm was fixed with a plate.
Just days after the incident, both wrestlers told Cowboy State Daily their goals was to return to competition this season.
Less than 12 weeks later, that idealistic dream is slowly coming into focus.
Lowry’s father, Dallas Lowry, said his son plans to wrestle competitively this year.
“It’s been a miracle,” he said. “God lives.”
‘I Owe Him Everything’
Lowry, a native of Cedar City, Utah, credits Cummings with saving his life.
The bear first attacked Lowry, but then Cummings jumped on the bear to pull him off.
“I grabbed and yanked him hard by the ear,” Cummings, a sophomore, told Cowboy State Daily from a hospital bed just days after the attack.
Cummings successfully got the bear’s attention. Backing up as the predator reared up toward him, he described the sensation of the bear’s putrid breath filling his nostrils and himself with a sense of dread.
“I can’t even express how grateful I am for him,” Lowry said. “I don’t know what I’m going to pay him back, I don’t. I owe him everything.”
Both men have undergone multiple surgeries over the last couple days.
Cummings received 60 staples in his head and plastic surgery to address major lacerations to his face, major lacerations to his left arm and leg that doctors had to suture up, and stitches on his right hand and right leg.
Lowry suffered a broken arm and lacerations to his back, shoulders, right leg and thigh.
Lowry was scheduled to be released from the hospital Monday while Cummings is expected to be released later this week.
Veteran hunters and wrestlers, the grapplers said the experience was incomparable to anything they’ve ever gone through.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Lowry said.
While back home in Cedar City, Utah, over the holiday break, Brady Lowry helped coach his father’s high school wrestling team.
“He’s amazing,” his father said of Brady and how he’s handled the ordeal of surviving
Brady Lowry still hasn’t been cleared to wrestle, but is expected back this season, the Powell Tribune reported Thursday.
Dallas Lowry said Cummings has already returned to wrestling, but will likely use the year as a redshirt season. He said both wrestlers aspire to win national championships.
The wrestlers have been honored in a variety of ways since the bear attack.
Their story gained global attention and recognition from many notable figures in the wrestling community. They also have been honored by other college wrestling teams at their meets.
“You can see our brotherhood coming together, and we’ve been wrestling tough,” Brady Lowry said in a December interview with Ohio Mat Media. “When somebody is wrestling, our whole team is in the corner watching, coaching. We don’t miss a match and it’s translated over the mat.”
Their coach, Jim Zeigler, agrees.
“Those young men – they’re all accountable for their actions and what they do,” he said. “They feel accountable. If one of them is in trouble, they’re not just going to walk away.”
Zeigler said his program specifically recruits athletes from small- to middle-sized communities who show character and work ethic rather than just pure talent.
“We don’t ask you to jump on a bear’s back,” he said, “but we do demand accountability.”