Cheyenne Mountain wrestling coach Tyler Seaney had plans for Deonte Bridges dating back to the Indians sophomore’s seventh grade year.
Seaney was coaching middle school football when he noticed Bridges’ blend of size and natural ability. The coach helped Bridges get started with the Cheyenne Mountain club wrestling program, a decision that has paid dividends.
“He took off right away,” Seaney recalled.
Bridges flashed that ability and showcased his growth over the last three years by winning the 220-pound bracket at the Old Chicago Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament to earn Peak Performer of the Week.
“It’s one of the top (tournaments) in the state every year,” Seaney said, adding that Bridges was his first wrestler in 15 years coaching to win the tournament.
“It’s a huge deal.”
The weekend left Bridges with a clear picture of where he wants to be at the end of the season.
“I feel like this year, I could take state,” Bridges said.
He’s got good reason to believe that’s achievable.
Bridges finished third at 220 as a freshman. The defending champion graduated. Bridges pinned Mesa Ridge’s Dominick Fini, who knocked him off in last year's state semifinals, in Saturday’s championship.
The Cheyenne Mountain sophomore won his first match via an 11-5 decision before three consecutive first-round pins set up a championship match with Fini.
“Him beating me two times last year, I was kinda nervous going up against him,” Bridges admitted.
Seaney remembered seeing Bridges take a conservative approach early, but when Fini missed a shot in the second period, Bridges countered with a lateral drop, leading to the championship pin.
“It felt so good,” Bridges said. “I don’t know how to tell you (about) it.”
As a freshman, Bridges relied on overpowering opponents.
“His ability to wrestle a complete match and not rely on throwing... He’s got really good shots on his feet,” Seaney said, summing up Bridges’ improvement from last year..
“He’s an incredible athlete too. He can beat a lot guys in a lot of different ways.”
Another step forward came between the ears.
“Freshman year, I was hesitant wrestling anybody,”he said. “My head wasn’t in the right place.”
Now, Bridges says he takes the mat with the mindset he’s going to beat his opponent regardless of record or rank.
With a couple more years of growth and experience, the belief is Bridges can be special at Cheyenne Mountain and beyond.
“His ceiling is really high. He’s probably one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever seen and worked with,” Seaney said.
“He could do some great things in this sport for sure.”
The 15-year-old sophomore’s romp through one of the biggest wrestling tournaments in the state proves as much.
Other Peak Performers
Joel Scott, Lewis-Palmer
The 6-foot-6 junior has helped the Rangers to a 6-0 start. He started last week with a career-high 33 points with nine rebounds against Vista PEAK before making 9 of 15 from the field for 20 points in a win over Pueblo South.
Ashten Prechtel, Discovery Canyon
The junior center helped the Thunder bounce back from a two-point loss against Pueblo East on Tuesday with wins over Rock Canyon and Ponderosa. Pretchel scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss before posting a 22-point, 20-rebound double-double in a 38-25 win over Rock Canyon. She closed the week with a 28-point, 17-rebound effort against Ponderosa on Friday.
Connor McIlhany, Liberty
McIlhany helped the Lancers pick up their first two wins of the season last week. He recorded a hat trick in a league win over Rampart on Wednesday. The Lancers then picked up a win over Steamboat Springs on Saturday after Friday’s loss at Standley Lake.
Dominique Cos and Sara Conroy, Pine Creek
Cos and Conway each won two events, as the Eagles improved to 4-0 in dual actions this season. Cos took the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle, while Conroy won the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.