Hurdler Bella Witt chose UNLV over offers from several schools including California, North Carolina A&T, and Oregon (Courtesy Photo)

Calabasas High School sprinter, Bella Witt, is the top hurdler in California and one of the best in the 2021 class. In December, Witt announced that she will be attending UNLV. Although COVID-19 protocols would keep her from meeting college coaches in person, Witt could tell that the Rebels’ track and field squad provided a family-oriented environment.

The program also offers support to the student-athletes, including with academics. Witt desires to study business when she goes to college.

“I don’t want to have that rude awakening that a lot of people have said that they have had when it comes to balancing track and academics,” Witt said. “They’re gonna push us on the track, they’re gonna make us do things that will get us better.”

Witt has been competing in track and field since she was five years old. The adrenaline she felt on competition days kept her interested, but hurdling fostered her desire to compete.

Witt began competing in hurdling events while she was in middle school. During her eighth-grade year, Witt competed in the heptathlon and the 100m hurdles in the Junior Olympics, ultimately coming in first place in the 100m hurdles.

“A lot of competitors that were in the final heat are actually my competitors right now,” Witt said. “that heat was packed … that win made me realize that I’m doing something right, I’m on the right path.”

Witt also has experience competing in short distance events, the 4x100m, 4x400m, long jump, high jump, and 300m hurdles. As a freshman at Birmingham high school, Witt reached the LA City Section Championships in the 4x100m relay, long jump, 100m hurdles and the 200m.

With a 14.36s time, Witt came in first in the 100m hurdles to win the L.A. City Section Championship. Witt competed in the State championships in the 4x100m, 100m hurdles and the 200m that season. At Calabasas, she served as a team captain for two years. She gets work done with the team while maintaining a placid demeanor.

“I’ve always been a type of person that leads by example,” Witt said. “I’d be the person that gets up, starts the warmup, normally by myself and then the team recognizes that and then follows.”

As a sophomore, Witt paced the Marmonte League Finals with a 13.94s time and had a personal record of 13.63s at the Arcadia Invitational. That time would peg her as the fastest 100m hurdler in California, colleges would look at this time because the COVID-19 pandemic stole her junior season.

“Even though my time and where I’m at right now is good and it’s still top of the state, top of the country, I feel like there’s so much more that people have not been able to see other than my coaches and my teammates,” Witt said.

Along with doing track and field for Calabasas, Witt runs for the Code Black Elite club team.

Since Witt’s mother is a teacher, a strong work ethic in academics is enforced in Witt’s household.

“Academics is on top, I always make sure that I have that done before I can move on with track,” Witt said. “At the end of the day, track is not gonna be forever and I need to get my education.”

Outside of academics and athletics, Witt is a member of Colorful Flags, a nonprofit organization that teaches high school students about implicit and explicit biases.

“We play either a video or have a slideshow, talk about the differences between implicit and explicit biases,” she said. “To know the facts, to be educated properly is very important, especially now.”