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Wyoming College Wrestlers Fought a Grizzly. The Grizzly Won.

Forget friendship bracelets and secret handshakes: Last fall, four Wyoming wrestlers learned what it meant to be a true friend when a grizzly bear attacked them out of nowhere. 

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Brady Lowry, Kendell Cummings and two other members of the Northwest College wrestling team were out antler hunting when they unknowingly stumbled into a grizzly bear’s territory. The bear, likely a mother protecting her cubs, first went after Lowry, shaking and immediately breaking his arm. Cummings watched in horror as the bear rag-dolled his friend. Despite having only trained together for a few weeks, the boys had already formed a brother-like bond, they told KSL News. So, Cummings immediately took action. 

“I had to get it off. I had to do something. I couldn’t watch my friend get torn up right in front of me,” Kendell Cummings said in an interview with MTN News.

Grizzlies roam much of northern Wyoming. Image by Chris Hackett/Getty

Cummings tried to fend off the grizzly bear by yelling, throwing rocks and waving his arms, but the bear was undeterred. So, Cummings summoned his courage and lunged at the bear as a last resort, putting his wrestling skills to the test. When the bear let go, he ran, hoping he had bought enough time for everyone to get away. He hadn’t—but he had convinced the bear to leave Lowry and charge after him instead. 

The bear chased down Cummings and grabbed him, sinking its teeth into his head, leg, and face. At some point during the attack, Cummings — who later said he’d somewhat surrendered to the possibility of death — lay still, and the bear backed away. Meanwhile Lowry dragged himself up a hill, called 911 and reunited with his two uninjured teammates. The dispatcher had advised the boys to seek safety, but they refused to leave Cummings behind. 

Eventually, they found their friend. Cummings was covered in blood and unable to walk. So, they carried him fireman-style, even passing him over a barbed wire fence, reports KSL. Eventually, they reached a location where an ambulance could reach them. The boys were quickly rescued. 

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that come with venturing into the wilderness. It’s also important to recognize that bear attacks are incredibly rare—according to the National Park Service, you have less than a 1 in 2 million chance of being attacked by a grizzly.

If you do see a bear, remember: Don’t run. Instead, raise your arms, back away slowly and speak in a low, firm tone. If the bear charges you, continue backing away. Usually, these charges are “bluff charges” and the bear is just trying to intimidate you. And if it actually attacks? That’s the time to do what Cummings and Lowry did: fight for your life. 

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