Surprise unbeaten team as dual meet season heats up

By Ray Hamill — Bigger challenges await, but the Arcata Tigers continued to build momentum on the wrestling mats this week with their second dual meet victory in two weeks.

The Arcata grapplers renewed their rivalry with McKinleyville on Tuesday and pulled out a 45-36 victory, following on from their team win over Eureka the previous week.

Both the Tigers and Panthers had some standout performances as they get set to compete at different tournaments this weekend.

The Tigers won the opening five matches by pin, including a win for Dakota Sanders, who continued his impressive season with a victory within 15 seconds.

“I bumped most of the kids up a weight class, and everybody did really good,” Arcata head coach Cass Bell said.

Bell has doubled the size of his team this winter in just his second year in charge of the program and clearly has the Arcata program headed in the right direction.

This weekend, Bell has brought six of his wrestlers to compete at a tournament in the San Jose Area, traveling with Sanders, Joshua Hannan, Isaiah Bell, Tavis Kjer, Mathew Anderson and Gavin Smith.

The Tigers will return to dual meet action on Tuesday when they face a tough challenge against the defending league champion Del Norte Warriors, who are also 2-0, before closing out against Fortuna the following week on senior night.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are competing at the Corning tournament this week after some strong performances against the Tigers.

Most notably, football MVP John Randle debuted with the team and won his match at heavyweight.

Randall, who played basketball last winter, has opted for the mats this season and is having an immediate impact.

“We’re excited to have him out,” McKinleyville head coach Virgil Moorehead said. 

Sophomore Lucas Dickey also has been impressing this season and won his match at 147 with a second-round pin.

“We’re really pleased with his performance and his dedication,” Moorehead said. “He’s coming along very well.”

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