By Ray Hamill — A group of Arcata youth wrestlers are getting set for one of their biggest tournaments of the season this weekend, and they’ve been doing so in style.
The Institute of Combat gym, which accommodates 73 youth wrestlers, will bring its top young competitors to Central Point, Oregon, for the prestigious Best of the West Tournament on Saturday.
And the kids geared up for the big event with a strong showing at last weekend’s Tournament of Champions, also in Oregon.
“They all did great,” said IOC wrestling coach Cass Bell said, who took seven wrestlers up to the tourney. “They all placed, a lot of them took home the championship.”
Talon Howes and Mason Ruiz were each making their folk style tournament debuts with the team, with Howes placing first in his division and Ruiz second.
Tanner Baxter also took a first and a second, as most of the IOC contingent wrestled up a weight class to test themselves ahead of the Best of The West.
Kaidan Bell also took home a first and a second, while younger sister Taylor Bell had a busy day wrestling in three separate weight divisions, and taking home a first, a second and a third.
teammate Cael Johnson also took home a third, while Ruger Baxter was second in his weight division.
“I’m stoked,” Cass Bell said of the performances. “A lot of them just got out of football and had only practiced one week and went with us to the tournament.”
And the coach is expecting another good showing this weekend.
“This is a super hard tournament,” he said. “It’s one of the tournaments we’ve been training for for a couple of months now.”