Tuesday, 04 June 2019 18:15

Brighton High First in Utah to Earn 120 Team Sports Titles

If the trophy cases at Brighton High could talk, they would have a lot to say about the courage, commitment and collegiality it takes to win championships. “Stand Together” is the Bengal motto, and together the students at Brighton have achieved a feat unmatched by any other high school in Utah: 120 team state championship titles.

It’s an impressive number, especially considering that the school has only been around for 50 years. Only one other high school in Utah has come close enough to breach the 100 mark.

“One-hundred-twenty championships in 50 years is unparalleled. There are schools just in this area that have been around for twice as long and they don’t have half that many championships,” says Principal Tom Sherwood. “The fact that Brighton has been perennially competitive in many sports speaks to the level of expectations in the community…and an overall focus on achievement.” 



What does it take to be the first to 120? Bragging rights for reaching that milestone belong to the boys soccer team, which clinched the 2019 5A championship with a crowd-pleasing play in overtime. But the path was paved over many years by many athletes in many sports.

Brighton established itself in the ‘70s as a powerhouse in wrestling. The campus first opened in 1969, and years of mentoring and team-building by coaches Don Neff and Dave Chavis paid off in 1974 with the first of what would become 13 first-place finishes over 14 years. In fact, six of Brighton’s first 10 championships were in wrestling.

Most of the rest of those early trophies went to the boys and girls tennis programs, which have continued a tradition of excellence under Coach Natalie Meyer, who played for Brighton as a student. All told, Brighton’s tennis teams have earned 29 titles, including the school’s first trophy in girls sports in 1976. Due, in part, to the fact that Brighton came of age in the era of Title IX and the push for equality in education, 51 of Brighton’s 120 titles have been won by women’s teams.  

But the undisputed leader is the Bengals swim program. Together, the girls and boys swim teams have collected 47 state crowns—the most recent having been earned in 2019 by the boys. Building on the foundation laid by Russ Lauber in the ‘80s, Coach Todd Etherington, who swam for Brighton as a student, has cemented the Bengal dynasty.

Overall, 14 different Bengal programs have tasted championship glory in baseball, girls and boys basketball, drill, football, boys golf, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, volleyball and wrestling. Starting in 1980, there were nine straight years where Brighton won at least three championships.

Who is next? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. But, as the coaches will tell you, high school sports are about so much more than winning championships.

“The biggest thing we talk about, which is, ‘Come in and do the best you can and when you’ve found that best, find a way to make it better,’ has nothing to do with swimming, and it has everything to do with swimming,” says swim coach Todd Etherington. “The pride that you have in your athletics makes your academics that much stronger, because the kids have something to believe in beyond themselves.”

Brighton High Team State Championships

Baseball: 1991
Boys Basketball: 1984, 1986, 1996
Girls Basketball: 2003, 2004, 2015
Drill Team: 1993, 2000
Football: 1982
Boys Golf: 1975, 1980, 1987, 2012
Boys Soccer: 1989, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2009, 2019
Girls Soccer: 1989, 1990, 1997, 2005, 2010, 2013
Boys Swimming: 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019
Girls Swimming: 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Boys Tennis: 1980, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1989, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018
Girls Tennis: 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1991, 2001, 2002
Volleyball: 2006
Wrestling: 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2001
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