Three Institute of Combat wrestlers placed at the prestigious Reno Worlds tournament in Nevada over the weekend, including a pair of H-DN standouts.
Hoopa High’s Gerard Marshall continued an outstanding year on the mats with a second-place finish in the 285-pound division, dropping just one match over the three days of competition.
Eleven-year-old Taylor Bell is also enjoying a big 2023 on the mats and placed fifth in her bracket, while Del Norte’s Curtis Bartley had arguably the most impressive showing of the weekend and placed eighth in a tough 137-pound bracket that featured 130 wrestlers.
Cass Bell brought 15 of his IOC wrestlers to compete at the tournament, which featured almost 3,000 wrestlers on more than 300 teams.
Several of the local grapplers performed well, but none more so than the three who placed.
Marshall, who is the two-time defending North Coast Section heavyweight champ, lost his semifinal, but battled his way back to win his true second matchup and did so while sick.
“He wrestled great,” the coach said. “Unfortunately he was sick on Sunday. He wasn’t felling well, but he went out there and wrestled his butt off.”
Bartley went undefeated on the opening day, before dropping a match on day two, but he also battled his way back through the consolation bracket to place.
“He had the most impressive (performance),” Cass Bell said. “There were so many kids in his bracket. That was a tough bracket.”
The younger Bell also impressed.
Just three weeks after winning a folkstyle state championship, Taylor lost just twice over the three days in Reno, to the eventual second- and third-placed finishers.
Bartley and Marshall also received World of Wrestling All-American awards for their performances.
Brothers Talon and Cirrus Villarruel also made the trip, as did Cass’ younger brother Isaiah Bell, and the experience of competing at such a big tournament will help their development on the mats.
“It was the first time they’ve ever seen anything this big,” the coach said, adding of the younger Cirrus who competed in the 6U division, “he did really well. I was super proud of him, just for being his first time there and experiencing it all. It was awesome.”
Isaiah Bell is coming off a breakout season at the high school level and has carried that form into the spring.
“He’s improved so much,” Cass Bell said. “He’s making me super proud, with his hard work and his mindset.”
At 175, Donald Hostler also had a good tournament for the Arcata-based club while matching up against wrestlers much taller.
“Donald’s not scared to go in there with these giants,” the coach said. “And he gave it everything he had.”
Alijah Robinette (6U), Boden Barter (8U), Maureen Baxter (9U), Tanner Baxter (10U), Justin Osborne (12U), Branson Hunter (15U), Chase Bickmore (15U), Dakota Sanders (18U) and Catelya Robinette each also made the trip and gained some valuable experience there.