King, Bell shine at national wrestling tournament

| Monday, Aug. 9, 2004

The summer months have not exactly been a time of relaxation for a couple of local wrestlers.

Connellsville graduate Jarrod King and senior Steve Bell recently took part in one of the biggest high school wrestling tournaments in the country. And to say they did well would be an understatement.

The tournament was held over three days in late July in Fargo, North Dakota. A total of 48 states were represented along with Puerto Rico.

King, who capped his high school career by winning his second straight state championship, showed that he is not only an elite wrestler in Pennsylvania, but one of the best in the entire country.

King wrestled in the 171-pound weight class in the ASICS-Vaughan Junior National Championship and he finished as the national champion. King was the best among 92 other top-notch wrestlers from around the U.S. He beat 10 wrestlers to earn the crown. King's triumph marked the first time that Connellsville boasted a national champion at such a prestigious tournament.

"This is probably bigger than winning the state tournament," Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde said. "This isn't just for seniors and a lot of college coaches look at this even more than how a wrestler does in his own state tournament."

For King, it was just another milestone achieved on what should be a long and successful wrestling career. King will continue wrestling this year as he will compete for the University of Oklahoma.

"This was probably the biggest high school tournament you can win," King said. "This is another thing to build on toward bigger things."

For Bell, the competition was tough at the 125 weight class, but the incoming senior shined all the way to an eighth-place showing. Bell finished the tournament with nine wins in a bracket that included 110 wrestlers.

"I know that I could have done better, but I feel pretty good with eighth," Bell said. "It was a big tournament with a lot of good wrestlers."

During the tournament, Pennsylvania posted the best overall team score. Not surprisingly, it was no easy task to just be a part of the Pennsylvania team. Each wrestler had to go through a series of qualifying events in order to earn their spot on the team.

Connellsville wrestler Eric McGinnis also competed in the tournament and wrestled at the 135 weight class. Although McGinnis did not place, it was an accomplishment just to make the team.

Qualifying for the tournament was tough, but so was the financial burden for each wrestler to make their way to North Dakota. Fortunately, some local businesses helped sponsor the wrestlers.

Those sponsors were Bruner Insurance, Open MRI of Connellsville, Ed Nicholson and Son's Lumber, Bell's Auto Body, C&S Photography, Henschel and Sons Automotive and Dunbar Motors.

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