By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers might lack the depth to challenge for a league championship in wrestling this season, but new head coach Cass Bell believes they will enjoy plenty of individual success as he eyes building the program for the future.
The Tigers open the H-DNL with a dual meet at Del Norte on Wednesday night, but have just seven or eight weight classes filled with a roster of mostly new wrestlers.
But Bell likes what he’s seen from all of his wrestlers, in particular junior Josh Hannan, whom he describes as pound-for-pound the best wrestler in the H-DNL.
Hannan, who took top spot in his weight class at the opening three tournaments of the season, is currently ranked No. 33 in California at 132 pounds.
“We’ve got a couple of kids that have wrestled for a while,” said Bell, who took over the program shortly before the season. “I have high hopes for Josh, who I think will win sections and go far in state.
“And he’s only a junior. I’m super stoked I have him for one more year.”
Bell also has big expectations for Paolo Bosques-Paulet and Issac Weaver.
Bosques-Paulet placed second to Hannan in the 132-pound division at last month’s McKinleyville tournament and is a first-year wrestler who has caught on quickly after previously competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Weaver meanwhile, has yet to wrestle this season because of injury, but is expected back soon and will compete at 108 pounds.
“I know the level he’s at, and he’s going to do well. He’s going to do really well,” Bell said of Weaver, a senior. “As soon as he gets on the mat he’s going to tear it up.”
Bell’s younger brother, freshman Isaiah Bell, also is on the team and is expected to do well and follow in the success of his older sibling, who is a former Tiger standout in the sport.
Isaiah will compete at 113 pounds, while Ayden Casper also is expected to make some noise this season at 160 pounds.
“What I like about this team as a group is they have each other’s back,” said Cass Bell, who is one of four new head coaches in the H-DNL. “From day one, they’ve always been there on the mats cheering on their teammates, which is awesome.”
The Tigers also have four girls on this year’s roster, including impressive senior Haley Kenyon, who Cass Bell previously coached and is back on the team this year for the first time since she was a freshman.
The new head coach, who has built a very successful youth wrestling program at the Institute of Combat in Arcata, has eyes on doing the same at Arcata High.
“This season, really it’s all about building the team, teaching the kids wrestling and establishing the program,” he said. “I’m excited for the challenge this year, and I think with the kids I have now they’re going to do well.”