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By Lem Satterfield
Special to The Sentinel
Senior Christian Bryant is leaving a winning family legacy at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
A three-time champion in both the Prince George’s County and Class 4A-3A South Region, Bryant ranks as the winning wrestler in Raiders’ history with a career mark of 126-12 at 285 pounds. The winning mentality is one he will look to continue in the fall at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where his father, Richard Sr., is a 1988 alumnus, and elder brother, Ricky, is a junior.
“I’ve wanted to attend the Naval Academy for my entire life,” said Christian Bryant. “Someone has to step up and defend and protect our country, and I want to serve. I expect to work my way up to the rank of general.”
As a sophomore, Bryant went 29-5, falling, 5-1, in his state semifinal bout to the Seahawks’ state champion Brendon Woody. Bryant lost his past two state semifinals to repeat title winner Ka’ Ron Lewis of South River, falling, 5-2, as a junior, and, 7-2, as a senior.
“I had beaten him in the South River Duals in his home gym, 3-2,” said Bryant, who went 32-1 last year, 41-2 this season, and is 1-3 against Lewis. “My story is not one of being a three-time state champion, but it is one of wrestling at states and coming back to be a winner all three times.”
Like his brother Ricky, who starred at Roosevelt, Christian was named the winner of the Joe Murphy Award for the senior who has scored the most points for his school in the county tournament. Ricky lettered at Navy as a 133-pound freshman before shifting to Jiu Jitsu.
“I’ve always wanted to be as good as Ricky was,” said Bryant, a three-year team captain whose mother, Stephanie Gaines-Bryant, is a news anchor at WTOP. “The legacy is important, but it was never like I wanted to be better than him. I’ve benefited from a lot of the things that Ricky taught me when we were younger.”
Bryant is more than just an outstanding athlete on the mat. Enrolled in the AP Cambridge Capstone Program at Roosevelt, Bryant’s 3.6 GPA places him in the top five percent of his class.
Bryant’s a member of the Music Honor Society at Roosevelt as well as of the Raiders’ bands and choirs and while playing with the prestigious Peabody Conservatory and University of Maryland’s High School Music Academy.
A week after states, in fact, Bryant was at Roosevelt participating with his siblings in a Coffee House Gala, having completely composed a solo he played on the piano.
“I taught myself to play the piano in seventh grade, and I’ve been doing it since then,” said Bryant, who volunteers at the Bowie Boys and Girls Club, among other activities. “My twin sister, Kendall, plays acoustic guitar, and my younger brother, Gabriel, is a 10th-grader who plays electric guitar and bass.”
With an eye toward competing on the collegiate level next winter, Bryant watched the March 21-23 NCAA Wrestling Championships won by Penn State.
The Nittany Lions crowned 285-pound Anthony Cassar, who completed a 30-1 season with a 10-1 major decision over favored Derek White of Oklahoma State. An injured Cassar missed all of the 2016-17 season and was knocked from last year’s starting lineup by teammate Shakur Rasheed, who finished seventh at 197 pounds.
Bryant watched Penn State’s victory as a fan but more as a wrestling student, observing every movement made by Cassar. As he prepares for a new chapter in his educational and wrestling career at the Naval Academy, Bryant is ready to slam away all the challenges coming his way.
“My favorite was the Penn State heavyweight Anthony Cassar because he has a perseverance story,” said Bryant. “Cassar had never made it to the tournament before and yet he ended up winning it his first time. That’s a demonstration that, with the right amount of hard work, motivation and determination, anything is possible.”