Arcata youth wrestler Taylor Bell secured a rare triple crown of state titles after placing first at the California freestyle championships in Fresno over the weekend.
Bell was one of several locals to travel for the big event and one of two to take home a state championship, joining Del Norte’s Colton Schaad, who placed first in the boys 16U Greco-Roman division.
The young Bell, who is the daughter of local MMA fighter and Arcata High wrestling coach Cass Bell, capped an incredible season on the mats with her fourth state title of 2023.
She follows in the footsteps of Fortuna’s Tyson Evanow, who also won a rare triple crown of state wrestling titles in 2016.
For good measure, the young Bell also was crowned state champ in the boys bracket in her age group in Greco-Roman.
Immediately after winning the first of her state titles this spring, she immediately set herself a goal of completing the triple crown, and over the weekend she achieved that ambition.
“She went in there on a mission and accomplished her goals,” said Cass Bell, who coaches his daughter. “She was so calm and collected. She really matured this weekend. She believed in herself.”
Schaad, meanwhile, also has been enjoying an outstanding spring on the mats and that continued this past weekend.
Having already qualified for the 2023 US Marine Corps Junior & 16U Nationals in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman after a third-place finish in each code at the Northwest Regionals in Washington earlier this season, Schaad solidified that with a first-place finish at the Greco-Roman state championships over the weekend.
“He wrestled really well,” said father and coach Colton Schaad, who is the head coach at Del Norte High School. “I’m not the best Greco coach in the world, but we have a couple of coaches here that are much more familiar with that style, and that helped.”
The younger Schaad, who will be a high school junior in the fall, recorded relatively comfortable victories in the first and third of his three matches, but had to overcome a tricky matchup in the semifinals, which he did with a “smart match,” his coach said.
“He had a good finals match,” Clinton Schaad said. “He had a very good tournament. He’s worked really hard the last few weeks.”
The nationals will take place in Fargo, North Dakota, from July 15 to the 23.
Several other local wrestlers also traveled for the weekend state championships, including 13 total from Del Norte.
Angel Taggart and Rhyker Loftin each placed second in their divisions for the Crescent City club, while David Burshem placed third, and William Gillis, Malena Bates, Tek Lo and Nemechay Bates each placed fourth.
It was the second straight year the impressive Taggart placed second at the state meet.
Also impressing for Del Norte were Justin Osburne, who placed fifth in his division, Colton Magana, who placed sixth, and Leyton Magana and Sinew Bates, who were both eighth.
Fresh off a very impressive freshman high school campaign, Chulhs Bates finished sixth in the weekend Greco-Roman state championships.
“The Del Norte kids that went down there, I was happy for all of them,” Clinton Schaad said. “They’ve all worked hard, and even competing (at the state tournament) is a major accomplishment.”
Cass Bell and the Arcata program had almost as many young wrestlers make the trip and fared equally well.
In addition to Taylor Bell’s big performance, Brooklyn Hines placed second in the 10U girls division, while her sister Hailey Hines came up just short of a medal with a ninth-place finish in the 8U division.
Jackson Hicks, 13, also had a big weekend and finished second, while 7-year-old Jeremy Sanders Jr placed fifth and teammate Leland Lake was seventh in his 12U bracket.
Branson Hunter, 14, also impressed and finished fourth, while Kaidan Bell took fifth in his bracket despite competing in just two tournaments all season in preparation because of some injuries.
James Holt came away with an eighth-place finish in the 8U division, while Taylor Holt also impressed and got some valuable experience.
St. Bernard’s Chase Bickmore, 14, competed at 126 pounds in both the Cadet and Junior Greco-Roman divisions and came away with impressive sixth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively.
Rounding out a busy weekend of action for the Arcata club, Cass Bell also competed in an adult Greco-Roman division and took fourth place.
“It was a blast to be able to wrestle in front of my students and be able to coach them at the same time,” he said. “It was definitely difficult as I was focusing more on my wrestlers than myself, but we all got it done and I’m proud of everyone.
“For these kids to come out of Humboldt and perform how they have is amazing. We’re going against so many top teams down in Fresno and the best in California, so for us just to be able to compete and place at these tournaments is amazing.”
Clinton Schaad echoed the sentiment.
“I thought we had a pretty showing,” he said of the area. “I think the sport of wrestling up here is improving more and more. I’m pretty excited with the whole scene.”
The big performances follow the news that College of the Redwoods recently hired a head coach to run a men’s and women’s program, while earlier this week it was announced that Cal Poly Humboldt is looking to bring back its men’s program.