A group of local youth wrestlers are beginning to discover their own spider sense, and that’s setting them apart from the opposition.
Last weekend, a small team of grapplers coached by local MMA pro Cass Bell at Arcata’s Institute of Combat, travelled to Nevada to compete at the Rumble in Reno Rocky Mountain National Tournament, and stunned the rest of the field with a seventh place finish out of 152 teams from several states.
“I never imagined we’d finish so high, because of the size of the other teams,” Bell said. “I was hoping we’d be in the top 50. It was amazing.”
Bell travelled with 15 wrestlers, who were competing against teams far larger.
The coach said his team’s success has a lot to do how the young grapplers are reacting out on the mats.
“The kids are getting to the point now where they know what they’re doing,” he said. “I call it spider sense. When I’m fighting I don’t have to think. It’s just reaction. And that’s what the kids are doing. Their reaction time is getting so much better.”
Highlighting the stellar team performance was seven-year-old Tanner Baxter, who took first in his age group and then wrestled up a division and placed fourth.
Aidan Ayers also won the rookie division, reserved for wrestlers who have less than two years experience.
Justin Osburne was second in his rookie division, with Justin Noga and Cassius Barter both placing third in their brackets.
Gerard Marshal, Kaiden Bell and Taylor Bell each also placed second, as did Meka Shitata, who pulled double duty and wrestled up a division as well, placing third.
Donald Hostler II, Rory Bickmore, Dakota Bestul Curtis Bartley, Chase Bickmore and Allie Bartley each also had impressive tournaments for the team.