RAINIER - A year ago Bobby Crislip was distraught and several of his mates were near tears when they were eliminated at the 2A Regional Wrestling Tournament at Castle Rock High School.

What a difference a year makes! This season Crislip began running up to five miles a day after football season ended and worked doggedly with assistant coach Nate Plummer night after night and under the tutelage of coach Tom Hornbuckle to hone his wrestling skills. The result is a trip to Mat Classic XVII next Friday and Saturday in the Tacoma Dome for the 275 pound junior grappler.

Crislip finished second, losing in the championship bout to North Beach's Chris Valencia 7-5. "Bobby was frustrated by Valencia's running tactics," coach Mike Garcia said following the match. Crislip had pinned Valencia two weeks earlier and the North Beach wrestler had no intention of letting Bobby get close to him this time around.

Crislip earned his trip to state in quick fashion, getting a bye in the first round of Regionals when his opponent did not show and pinning Ocosta's Jason Nice in just 54 seconds in the semi-finals. "It was a shame coach Hornbuckle wasn't able to see Bobby win," Garcia stated. Hornbuckle was hospitalized last week from a kidney stone and as of Monday he was still under a doctor's care.

Crislip will not be traveling alone as Geoff Hylton, a sophomore wrestling at 189, will be an alternate as he placed fifth at Regionals. Hylton was pinned by Tim Lee of Ocosta, decisioned Gaffney from North Beach 9-3, and was pinned by Dobbins of Onalaska. He won the match for fifth place by default when Toledo's Birdwell was unable to continue.

At 152, Matt Tarabochia put up a rousing battle with Joe Pettit of Willapa Harbor, eventually losing 10-1. He then pinned Hartman of Cathlamet in 52 seconds, was pinned by Kalama's Erece in 4:31 with a berth to the Mat Classic hanging in the balance, and took sixth place when Roe out-pointed Tarabochia 8-2.

Ilwaco had two wrestlers in the 145 bracket. Enrique Killinger was pinned in 4:30 by Rainier's Bengston and Anthony Bartolus was put to the mat in 1:40 by Ocosta's Randy Poole setting up a match between the two Fishermen.

Bartolus out-scored Killinger 19-17 as "both wrestlers had fun out there," according to Garcia. Bartolus was then pinned by Espinosa of Ocosta in 4:01 and took sixth place when he lost to White Pass' Billien 10-5.

Both Garcia and Hornbuckle expressed their appreciation and effort for what the wrestlers have accomplished this season. Garcia said, "We are all very proud of how the guys did today. We only had two wrestlers with any kind of experience to begin the season and Bobby will compete at state and four of our guys placed at Regionals."

Hornbuckle regretted not being able to travel to Regionals and is hopeful of being able to coach in Tacoma. Crislip will open against Derek Toney, a freshman from Reardon, at 1 p.m. Friday. A win in the opening round could set up a match with last year's defending 1A state champ Mic Goad of Springdale at 6:50 p.m. and a loss in the opener would have Bobby facing elimination at 7 p.m. on Friday.

A total of 1680 matches will determine 56 individual and four team state champions on Mat Classic XVII's 24 mats in the Tacoma Dome Feb. 18 and 19. Results of the Classic will be posted at (www.wiaa.com) during the weekend.

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