CLOVIS, Calif. — Inside a 2,600 square foot wrestling facility in Clovis, you’ll find some of the top wrestlers in the state training at The Club. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that they’re not all boys.
“I think sometimes when guys hear that I wrestle, I think that they’re shocked sometimes, but once they see me wrestle they’re like ‘oh, she’s pretty good.'”
She’s very good. Bella Gonzales is an 8th-grader at Reyburn Intermediate. She’s 14 years old and is already making a scene on the national stage.
Gonzales is a two-time national champion and she’ll be going to Mexico City in October to represent the United State at the Pan American Games, which will be her first international tournament.
“I was really wanting to win this for almost two years now. I was supposed to go before COVID, but that happened and I wasn’t able to and now I finally went and I was like, ‘wow, I did it, I finally did it,'” Gonzales said smiling.
Ray Blanco, who has coached Gonzales since she was in the 4th grade, was in her corner at Nationals in Irving, Texas.
“I’m a veteran, so I’m pumped up she’s representing now,” explained Blanco. “It’s been a ride, it’s been a really special ride, proud to be part of it and looking forward to bigger things from her.”
Next year, she’ll be a freshman at Clovis East and will be joining the Timberwolves’ program under head wrestling coach Josh Adams.
“She’s definitely a special wrestler for us,” says Adams. “We have a growing girls program and she’s gonna fit right into that and she’ll fall into a leadership role I imagine right out of the gates.”
Gonzales works out twice a day for two hours each session. She’ll train at The Club against high school boys and then train at home with her younger sister.
“I have big goals ahead of me and I know that if I stop now other people will catch up and possibly get ahead of me, so I have to keep pushing myself to keep working so I know that I’ll end up on top,” explained Gonzales.
One of her goals is to make it to the Olympics one day and Adams says it’s definitely a possibility.
“If you looked at the Olympic trials this year, there were a couple 17-year-olds that made the finals in the women’s division and she’s right up at that level, in terms of her progression and where she could be the next three years from now, or definitely from 7 years from now,” Adams said.
Gonzales was a dancer and gymnast before she started wrestling and she says that has helped her with her flexibility and footwork.
Gonzales is also a straight A student.