Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories about Altus athletes who received college scholarships.
Wrestling might be something Montorie Bridges comes by naturally — his father wrestled in high school — but it took years of dedication and sacrifice to become the wrestler that he is today.
His father — Ulysees Bridges III — got him started early and Montorie has never looked back.
“He started wrestling when he was three years old,” Bridges III said. “I was the coach of city league in Altus so I threw him right in there in September 2001. I always saw the potential in him. When he was six or seven years old, we used to take our kids up to Tulsa and enter them in the World of Wrestling events and these are big nationwide tournaments with participants from all fifty states come to wrestle and so when they started competing in those tournaments and started winning and placing every year, we knew they potential was there. I say they because we had three or four kids that were at this top-notch level. We had Taven and Tristan and several other kids, but these three were always in the top three or four.”
Bridges III gives a lot of credit to Coach Nick Williams and says Williams always did what he could to put his wrestling teams in a position to succeed. He says when he was wrestling, a coach of Williams’ caliber did not exist. He believes Williams’ philosophy of near year-round wrestling is essential for the amount of success his son has had and that the tournaments and camps his son participated in have gone a long way towards molding his son into the wrestler that he is.
Bridges III also gives a lot of credit to the teams’ sponsors and supporters. He says that without them, the wrestlers would not be able to go to nationals in Fargo, North Dakota; Stillwater, Louisiana or to a lot of the places the wrestlers have been throughout little league and high school. He says it has been mostly the same people sponsoring them in little league that sponsored the children all the way up through high school.
Montorie also gives credit to those individuals as well as the City of Altus, his friends, his brother, Williams and most of all, his parents.
Montorie has known wrestling was going to be a very big part of his life since he was in the seventh-grade. He has spent hours upon hours of training, knowing that only through hard work and dedication would he achieve what he wanted to achieve, and so he sacrificed and shed any distractions that would stand in his way and in the end, it paid off tremendously.
Montorie finished his senior year ranked 15th nationally. He placed fourth at junior nationals in Fargo in 2014, was named an All-American at Fargo, won the Geary Tournament four times, won two high school state championships and was recruited by over five different colleges, and that is all on top of numerous other awards. It is hard to find a more decorated wrestler in Altus High School history.
His father is happy that he chose the University of Wyoming.
“Before he was even a junior, I thought about him going to Wyoming,” Bridges III said. “Coach Mark Branch is out there and he’s from Oklahoma and I knew we had a kid that went out there a few years back to wrestle. Also, there was something that happened my son’s senior year. There was a kid that committed to Wyoming and was given a scholarship and the summer before he went to Wyoming, he got into a car accident and had to have his leg amputated. Coach Branch and Wyoming still honored their scholarship to him and that made me feel even better about the people he would be with. They care not only about your wrestling, but the person as well.”
He also feels being at Wyoming will keep his son focused on wrestling and school and away from the distractions of being close to home like he would have had he chosen the University of Oklahoma.
Montorie is happy too. By joining Wyoming’s wrestling squad, he also joins a former teammate in Cameron Loving.
“It’s going to be fun. It’ll sort of be like high school, being able to practice with somebody you know and rekindling what it was we had in high school,” Montorie said. “I really like the coaching staff a lot. They have three guys who went to school in Oklahoma so they are familiar with what go through. There program is on the rise. They had a national finalist last year and good kids on the team. It should be fun.”
He says his dad was his biggest influence in his wrestling career by introducing him to wrestling and making him stay on the right track all throughout his life. He feels once he reached junior high, Williams became a big influence on him as well.
“He would have me come up to the high school and practice with him,” said Montorie. “Even when I was in elementary, he was always reaching out. He played a big role in my career.”
Montorie had an oustanding career as an Altus Bulldog compiling a 174-9 high school career record and a 49-2 recrod his senior year, but he is more than ready for the next chapter in his wrestling career.
There are few athletes who have had the career he has had at Altus High School and now he can take his skills to Wyoming and show the world what an Altus Bulldog can do.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.