The Tallmadge wrestling team headed into its first home dual meet of the season Thursday with one arm tied behind its back.

"We were going in with the idea that we were going to have four forfeits," Blue Devils head coach Jason Shaw said. "Then we had to scratch our 132 pounder (junior Cody Lombardi) with a hand injury. We were giving up five forfeits, so we told the kids everybody needed to win."

Tallmadge responded nearly doing just that, as the Blue Devils pulled out a 45-36 win over Theodore Roosevelt at James O. Maddox Court. Tallmadge improved to 3-6 overall and 1-3 in the Suburban League American Conference with the win.  

"We won every wrestled match but one," Shaw said. "It turned out to be a pretty good night for us. They were pretty pumped up. I challenged them and they rose to the challenge. We had seven pins and one decision."

After starting the match with a forfeit loss at 106 pounds, the Blue Devils also forfeited at 132, 138 152 and 220 pounds, respectively. 

However, senior Fred Berry set the tone for the match by pinning Roosevelt’s Brandon Ondrejko in 2:59 at 113 pounds.

Tallmadge sophomore Josh Heatwall pinned Phil Freeman in 29 seconds at 120 pounds, followed by 126-pound senior Jake Kanatzar pinning Kalear Collins in 48 seconds.

The Blue Devils then got a pin from 145-pound senior Logan Rickenbacker over Brian Alexander in 2:52. 

The most competitive match of the night came at 160 pounds, as Tallmadge sophomore Jesse Kanatzar pulled out at 3-1 win over Duncan Barr.

Junior Richie Eyre (170) pinned Roosevelt’s Sam Lund-Goldstein in 1:17, followed by freshman Nate Amato (182) pinning the Rough Riders’ Vito Lenzo in 44 seconds.

Tallmadge sophomore Ben Blankenship (195) then clinched the match with a pin in 2:32 over Roosevelt’s Kris Marks.

Heavyweight Sam Whitehurst suffered the Blue Devils’ lone loss in a wrestled match, as he was pinned by the Rough Riders’ Brandon Wagner in 4:19.

Tallmadge was scheduled to participate in the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament Friday and Saturday, but the tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather. Shaw admitted not wrestling at the Dies was a big loss. 

"I told the kids this was a precursor to get ready for the state tournament," Shaw said. "We had three kids that were seeded somewhat high, so it would have been good to see what they could do.

"Now we’re scrambling to get our (schedule) points back. I was kind of hoping they would do a Saturday-Sunday thing, because kids don’t have school on Monday. It’s tough to lose a tournament like that."

Shaw said he was hoping to invite more teams to a Feb. 10 tri-meet at Tallmadge with Rootstown and Stow-Munroe Falls to perhaps set up a dual-meet tournament, but such an effort was "in its infancy."

The Blue Devils are set to visit Barberton Thursday at 6 p.m. for an American Conference tri-meet with the Magics and Aurora.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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