College wrestling is a funny sport. It has the warrior’s mentality of a combat sport, which of course it is. But on the other hand, it has the spirit of traditional college sports. There are those destined for the next level of the sport and there are athletes who benefit from the sport in different and just as equal ways. Wyoming’s two time All-American, Montore Bridges is in the latter category. After wrestling as a Cowboy for four years and entering his red shirt senior season, Bridges has decided to call it a career and close the chapter of his life that is collegiate wrestling.
For a select few, the burning desire to wrestle is blessed upon them and allows them to continue wrestling around the world at the next level. But for most athletes, it’s been a long, and hard road and the love simply goes away. The decision to retire from wrestling after being named first team All-American for Montorie Bridges comes from that mindset. He’s not moving up to the next level, nor does he have the desire.
“I think for the most part, it was just my love for the sport wasn’t the same as it had been. My heart wasn’t in it like it was when I first started my college career. First couple years, I had a lot of fun. Then as time went on, the fun started to decline and it became more of a chore instead of me going out there and enjoying it like I have been. I think that’s the main reason.”
Bridges goes on to say that without the experience, most people don’t understand what wrestling at the collegiate level is like. He believes that if you aren’t there, grinding and rubbing elbows with some of the best wrestlers on the planet, you will not understand what the athlete goes through.
“I think a lot of people fail to realize it. They haven’t done it at a competitive level, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re not wrestling. Do you not want to go to the Olympics? Do you not want to be a sponsored athlete?’ It’s not that easy. I know people who have worked their whole lives for it and still have nothing to show for it in a way. I think it’s just smarter to be able to accept that for what it is and plan your life accordingly and move on.”
It’s a realization for many student-athletes across all disciplines. Many players from last year’s LSU national championship team will not go play in the NFL. Even though the team was arguably the best to ever step foot on the field, not every player is destined to play football at the next level. While Montorie Bridges believes that wrestling will be an everlasting memory, there is more to life, for him, than wrestling.
“Wrestling is a big part of a college athlete’s life. But, for the most part, there’s things outside of wrestling that they love probably more than the sport. I would say wrestling is just a way to facilitate that for most people. How many people truly go on to wrestle at the next level after college?”
Bridges has accomplished so much at Wyoming. His 119-26 record saw him finish in the top fifteen at 133 in his red shirt freshman, sophomore, and junior year. But, now that it’s done, Bridges says the accolades aren’t the big thing for him. Instead, it was the relationships that are what Bridges enjoyed making the most in his tenure at Wyoming.
“I think for the most part, people expect to say accolades. I got All-American in 2018 and first team All-American in 2020. But I don’t think I have one specific memory. I think it was a culmination of everything. I’ve met some great people here, I still talk to them on a daily basis. I think the brothers that I made since I’ve been here too.”
What’s Next For Montorie Bridges?
As for what’s next, Bridges plans on finishing school. His life is taking him the route to serving the country. While he may not be enlisted in the military, he intends to join a federal law enforcement and build a career there.
“I’m finishing my masters in public administration with an emphasis on criminal justice. That’s what’s in front of me right now. After that I will be looking to apply somewhere in law enforcement.” Bridges continues, “I’m hoping to go the federal route so, the United States Marshall Service, DEA, FBI, things like that. That’s my goal.”
That dream of law enforcement started with a dream at a very young age. Denzel Washington starred in a movie that captivated Bridges at a young age, giving his first look at what a federal agent’s life might be. In addition to that, Bridges has family in the same line of work as well and the career path has always been in the back of his mind.
“I think the first time, I was maybe 10 or 11, there was a movie with Denzel Washington called ‘Deja Vu.’ He was an ATF agent in New Orleans. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but that’s the first time I knew what a federal agent was. Then, my uncle, he’s a federal agent up north. Since then, I knew those were opportunities for me. I’m trying to make myself as marketable as I can. That’s been my goal since I was 11.”
In his new career, Montorie Bridges will continue to reap the benefits learned from the skills acquired in the sport. Working hard for something, setting goals and hitting them and more will always be things he will excel at.
“I think the aspect of if you want something, you have to work and go get it. Especially now, in the world nothing is going to be handed to you. It’s based off of what you have done to what you can do and what you’re doing to pursue that. I think the hard work aspect too. If I want something, I’m going to go get it. I’m going to apply for any position I can and then be able to choose from those rather than wait for specific one. Or I can work my way up to where I want to be. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I’ll have from it, just the hard work and dedication it takes to be successful in any field that you do.”
The big rivalry in USA wrestling is the matchup at 74 kilograms between Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake. The two have gone back and forth both on and off the mat and are both vying for the same Olympic spot. It is almost a certainty that it will come down to these two for the spot on Team USA. Montorie Bridges threw his thoughts in the hat as well on who he thought would represent the United States.
“I’m going to have to say JB. He’s the king of the jungle right now. He’s represented USA at every big international tournament at 74. So, I mean, it’s hard to bet against him. There’s people you don’t bet against and I feel like he’s one of them for me. I say JB. I feel like he is getting better. He’s a lot more versatile in positions. I got to say him.”
We wish Montorie Bridges much luck in his future endeavors. Watching him wrestle was truly an experience. Whatever he does next, he will almost certainly achieve much success. Follow Bridges on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to follow the next step in his life.