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Experienced wrestlers ready for charge to state

"It's been a while since Mike Crebbin has been able to coach the same bunch of wrestlers two seasons in a row.The South Whidbey High School wrestling coach is getting his chance this year. After taking four wrestlers to the state tournament last winter, Crebbin has a group of veteran athletes this season who have been thinking about going to state as a team for the past 10 months. Twenty-four wrestlers came back to the mat this week to start what could be one of South Whidbey wrestling's finest seasons.The team's turnout is not quite what it was last year, but Crebbin said almost every member of this year's squad is a wrestler or an experienced athlete. The nice thing is that all these kids are wrestlers, he said.New up-and-comers include senior Aaron McCabe, who brings quickness to the 189-pound bracket from years of playing soccer, and freshman Eric Flister. Out of all his new wrestlers, Crebbin said, McCabe might be the one who makes it to state.He's so strong, Crebbin said Wednesday as he watched McCabe get the best of Chris Hezel, a fourth-year heavyweight. McCabe is used to excelling at new sports. He turned out for football for the first time this fall and ended up All-League as a punter.Missing from the wrestling lineup are Trevor Flemming, who graduated after placing eighth in the 2000 state meet, and state competitor Jeremy Bartlett. But more important is who is back. State participants Bruce Hymas and Brandon Hern have been training hard for the past three weeks and have their sights set on the 2001 Mat Classic. Also hungry for a trip to state are seniors Luke Smith, Sean Rumberger and Chris Hezel, and sophomores Kelly Foote and Sean Noste.Between those seven wrestlers and 17 more on the team, the Falcons have most weight classes, from 103 pounds to heavyweight, covered with experienced grapplers.Bruce Hymas, who co-captains the team with Sean Rumberger, said having so many wrestlers come back to the team this year can only help the Falcons' chances.That's why we'll be better, he said.Junior Brandon Hern said better could translate into third at the bi-district meet. Last year, the team was ninth at the meet.I think we'll do well this year, he said. Coach Crebbin said he could still use more heavy and light wrestlers. He said his team is thick in the middle, with more than enough talented wrestlers to take care of weight classes between 125 and 171 pounds. The predicament is not a bad one, considering the long, tough and potentially injury-ridden schedule the Falcons have ahead of them this season. Some of the toughest competition will come from the Falcons' own North Cascades Conference. Teams like Nooksack Valley, Sultan and Lynden Christian will be potential roadblocks to South Whidbey's march toward post-season tournament action.The Falcons wrestle their first matches of the season today at the Ferndale Jamboree. The first Falcon home meet is on Tuesday night at South Whidbey High School's Erikson Gymnasium. JV action starts at 6 p.m., and varsity action starts at 7 p.m. "

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