Ringing the ‘Bell’
Bell brothers leading the way for BLHS wrestling team
There are conflicting reports on how much Cody and Todd Bell wrestled at home when they were younger, but there's no disputing the fact that they were ready for competitive wrestling from the day their shoes first hit the mat.
Cody, a BLHS senior, and his brother Todd, a freshman, have been two of Basehor's most successful wrestlers this year. Cody is 7-0 on the season and ranked fifth in the state in 4A in his 119-pound weight class. Todd is 6-3 in his 160-pound weight class, despite generally facing older, more experienced competition.
So when two of the area's top wrestlers grow up in the same house, they're bound to have had some heated bouts against each other at least once in awhile, right? Depends who you ask.
"More like Cody used to beat the crap out of Todd," their older brother, Joe Bell Jr., said, suggesting that Cody did his best to fulfill his duties as an older brother and toughen Todd up.
"Oh, no, they were very close as kids," their mother, Cheryl Bell disagreed. She pointed out that the two were taking Tae Kwon Do together even before they started wrestling. She also said that when Todd broke his arm in elementary school he was completely inconsolable until the nurse called Cody in to come and stay with him.
Though the Bell brothers probably engaged in the usual brotherly skirmishes from time to time, there seem to be no hard feelings now, in any case. Todd admitted that right now he's known in wrestling circles mainly as "Cody Bell's brother," but it didn't seem to bother him. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Cody can be assured that Todd still looks up to him, even if he's a bit taller than Cody now.
"My goal is to be as good as him, career-wise," Todd said of Cody. "And to get a state championship."
Cody, soft-spoken and modest despite his undefeated record, said he didn't push Todd into wrestling when he started himself in seventh grade.
"He started right after me, but it was his own choice," Cody said.
Todd probably didn't need much coaxing anyway, as wrestling seems to be in the Bell blood. Joe Bell Jr., now a BLHS graduate, earned a spot in the state wrestling tournament as a junior.
Even with all the family support, Joe Bell Sr. said that BLHS wrestling coach Scott Neil ultimately has another area family, Randy Buck and his son Brandon, to thank for getting two of his best wrestlers started.
"Randy pushed me to bring my boys out for wrestling with Brandon, otherwise they would've been in some other sport," Joe Bell Sr. said.
Indeed, Cheryl said that in middle school Cody and Todd were involved in all kinds of sports before they settled into wrestling. Cody's independent nature made wrestling a natural choice.
"I liked to do individual sports," Cody said. "You don't have to rely on anyone else."
The years of watching Joe Jr., Cody and Todd all wrestle have given Cheryl and Joe Sr. lots of great memories, but one really tough one. Last year Cody was ranked No. 1 in the state, but missed out on going to the state tournament because he was four-tenths of a pound over his weight limit.
The setback had to be disappointing, but Cody seems intent on putting it behind him. He has won most of his matches by pin this year and hasn't really been threatened, even against quality wrestlers like Bonner Spring's Erick Ratliff. Joe Sr. wasn't surprised by Cody's perseverance; he's come to expect that from all his sons.
"Every time they started something in sports, if they started it, they were going to finish it," Joe Sr. said. "They never quit."
While Cody continues his quest for a state title, Todd is just getting started. His raw talent and determination have led him to a winning record so far, and Cody said that with a little more polish his brother would be another Bell success story.
"I think he'll do all right," Cody said. "He'll improve a lot with over the next few years with Neil as his coach."
Even so, Joe Jr. said that if Cody and Todd faced off today, it would still be no contest.
"Cody would win," Joe Jr. said. "Todd has the weight advantage, but Cody's just too good."
If Cody and Todd continue to have success, it will become even harder to believe the boasts of one the Bell brothers' most frequent opponents.
"It still takes all three of them and their 6-year-old little brother to pin me," Joe Sr. said.
Joe Jr. vehemently disputed the truthfulness of that statement.
Both Bells will be in action this weekend at the Bonner Springs Tournament.