Brighton wrestling could bring back the Bulldogs’ glory days under alum Tom Wagner01 Feb 2017
As far as tradition goes, not many high school wrestling programs have more of it than Brighton. The Bulldogs claim seven team state titles — tied for ninth best in state history — with each championship coming in a span of 11 years starting in 1984. But the last of those titles came in 1994, when Tom Wagner was a senior at Brighton. Wagner, now in his 10th season as the Bulldogs’ coach, finished his prep career with three team titles and two individual titles. Few programs in the history of CHSAA have been as dominant as the Bulldogs during that time. And few prep wrestlers ever get to experience winning one individual state title, much less two. So when Wagner accepted the job in the fall of 2006, he made it his mission to bring back the magic, and since then the Bulldogs earned one top-five team finish at state in 2007.
But this winter Brighton appears as dangerous as it has been since Wagner donned a red and white singlet. The Bulldogs took second at the prestigious Top of the Rockies tournament Jan. 21, placing only behind defending champion Pomona, and have a number of individuals capable of making deep state tournament pushes at the Pepsi Center next month. “There’s huge tradition here that we’re trying to build back up,” Wagner said. “It starts with getting numbers out, which we’ve been able to do because we had over 50 kids out for the team this season. It’s also about the approach. Tom Cortez was my coach, and he’s in the CHSAA Hall of Fame, so we brought his rough, hard style of wrestling back to the room, especially lately because we’ve had a group of kids that can handle that intensity.”