A group of college wrestlers from Wyoming faced their toughest opponent yet over the weekend.
Kendell Cummings and Brady Lowry – wrestling teammates at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming – were mauled by a grizzly bear Saturday while antler hunting.
The young men were released from a Billings, Montana hospital this week convinced “someone out there is looking out for me and Kendell,” Lowry told CNN affiliate KSL.
Lowry was the first one the grizzly attacked, he told CNN.
While making his way back to his car alongside Cummings, Lowry said he noticed bear marks on the ground. Just as he began to point them out to his friend, he “started hearing crashing coming through the tree.”
Lowry said he only had time to yell “Bear! Bear!” before the grizzly tackled him, causing him to fall about five feet off a small ledge.
“It started chomping on me pretty good. It got a hold of my left arm, it was shaking me around, broke my left arm.”
Cummings tried to get the bear’s attention by yelling and throwing things at it and when that didn’t work “he jumped down and grabbed the bear … and yanked it off me.”
Then the bear came for Cummings.
Cummings told KSL the bear “tackled me, chewed me up a bit.”
The bear wandered off and Cummings yelled for Lowry, according to KSL. But before he heard a response, the bear came back for round two, this time biting Cummings on the head and cheek, the KSL report said.
Lowry said he ran up the mountain to call 911, and after reaching emergency responders happened to look down and see August Harrison and Orrin Jackson – two other teammates he and Cummings had separated from during the hike.
The three connected with each other and Harrison continued back up the mountain to find Cummings.
Harrison said he found Cummings “limping down the mountain, drenched in blood.”
“(Cummings) asked me how he looked and I said, ‘You look great, we’ve gotta go!’”
The group took turns carrying Cummings – who suffered the worst injuries – back toward the trailhead. They said they walked about a mile before they were picked up by farmers, and eventually, emergency responders.
Lowry and Cummings are expected to make a full recovery – a reality that Lowry attributes to the bond between his teammates.
“We become best friends going to hell and back with each other. Seeing someone sweat and bleed … coach teaches us that. You aren’t going to leave a brother behind,” he said.
According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), there’s been an “abundance of bear activity at low elevations” throughout the national forest.
“In the vicinity where the attack occurred, reports from landowners and hunters indicate there may be six to 10 different bears moving between agricultural fields and low elevation slopes,” Dan Smith, Cody Region wildlife supervisor, said in a news release.
Smith said WGFD will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor bear activity in the area to “make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.”