CYPRESS — A year ago, Levi Bell wrestled at the state tournament on a broken ankle. Saturday afternoon, he won gold.
The Cedar Park senior rolled through the state wrestling tournament, picking up a pair of pinfalls and two lopsided decisions in the 220-pound division on his way to the first ever boys’ state title in school history.
“It’s everything,” Bell said. “Last year I didn’t really get a chance and it’s just so awesome. All the glory to God.”
Bell’s run to the final included an 8-3 decision over No. 1 Joshua Molinar of El Paso Eastlake in the semifinals.
The senior pinned Alex Martinez of San Antonio Highlands early in the second period of the state final. It was the third time he’s pinned Martinez this season, including a first-period pin in the regional final.
“It was very similar to the other times we’ve wrestled him,” Cedar Park head coach Nick Asmus said. “We watched the film of all the matches before tonight. We were familiar with the kid and we knew what he was going to do and Levi went out and did what he does.”
Bell said the familiarity with his opponent didn’t change his thought process and he didn’t take the first two matches against Martinez for granted.
“It doesn’t really matter that I’ve already beaten him,” Bell said. “He could still beat me. You never know.”
Bell had another strong season on the football team this year, finishing third on the team with 75 tackles and helping the Timberwolves advance to the third round and win at least 10 games for the eighth straight season. He was named the district’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.
He moved up a weight class this year, going from 195 pounds to the 220-pound division.
The five wrestlers from Cedar Park that advanced to the state tournament is the most Asmus has taken to the competition in his three years at the helm of Timberwolves and the second most individuals in school history.
Levi’s brother, Ben Bell, was the only other Cedar Park wrestler to advance to the second day of competition, losing to eventual third-place finisher Tristan Baugher from Prosper in the third round of the consolation round.
“It’s very fitting that our first boys’ state champion is Levi based on his work ethic and commitment and everything he’s done for our school and our program,” Asmus said. “It’s a giant step for our program moving forward and the growth of the sport at Cedar Park.”
Levi emphasized the importance of his brother, who was just one weight class above him, thought the season. As the finals were going on, Ben led the Cedar Park cheering section in the first row right across from the mat.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking to go out there and compete and it was comforting to have them supporting me,” Bell said. “My brother has been a good partner in practice and I wouldn’t be here without him.”