Steamboat’s Lance Bryant overcomes struggles on quest for state wrestling title | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s Lance Bryant overcomes struggles on quest for state wrestling title

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs senior Lance Bryant has seen his struggles on the mat during his wrestling career.

"It crossed my mind briefly," Bryant said when asked if he’d every considered quitting the sport. "But I love the sport so much that I could not imagine taking that path. Wrestling is my passion, and I have loved it since I started. could not think of quitting —  even with those injuries."

And those injuries were serious.

He dislocated his left elbow halfway during his freshman season and never got a shot at the regional qualifier or state. Bryant said he spent the next 10 months recovering and even skipped the high school football season to make sure he was ready to wrestle.

His sophomore season came to an end just two weeks after it started. Bryant dislocated his other elbow and spent the winter, spring and most of the summer rehabilitating it.

He finally got healthy and returned to the mat his junior year where he qualified for state and ended up fifth. During that season, Bryant was hit hard by a migraine just before the consolation semifinals.

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The timing of the headache, which was so bad it made him dizzy and made him sick to his stomach, caused him to lose his match by a single point, but Bryant rebounded to finish fifth at state.

"Oh my, it makes you so dizzy that you can't see, you can't really talk and it feels like someone is constantly kicking you in the head," Bryant said.

But the Steamboat senior prefers not to focus on what could have been.

Instead, he is focused on this year’s season and a return trip to Denver to compete for a state title. He went 29-5 this winter and was thrilled when he won last weekend's regional in Englewood where he beat Johann Ameca-Porras of Denver West in the finals. 

Throughout his struggles, Bryant has had a special person in his corner — his dad Travis, who also serves as Steamboat’s wrestling coach.

"I've been in competitive wrestling since I was a peewee, and he has always been right there for me," Bryant said. "He shows me where I could be better, and his advice has gotten me this far. I'm proud to say that he is my coach, and I'm proud that he is my dad."

Wrestling has always been a part of the Bryant's life. Travis Bryant coached at Mancos before coming to Steamboat Springs, and the family has a wrestling mat in their home.

This week Bryant will be hoping to make up for lost time with a solid performance in the 145-pound bracket. He will first face Theo Bone of Classical Academy.

"I guess it's definitely one of the biggest tournaments we have," Bryant said. "I just need to be able to wrestle to my ability, and I think that I can do great things."

Bryant will be joined by teammates Tucker Havel (26-10), who will face Alexander Vigil of Sheridan High School in the opening round, Hayden Johnson (29-3), who will face Jayde Queen (17-9) of Brush in the opening round at 160 pounds, and John Slowey (19-16), who will face Jake Sandau (30-6) of Eaton at 195 pounds.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.