ALLIANCE -- Coming into the Division II district tournament at Alliance High School, Tallmadge wrestler Ed Suber was probably favored to advance to states.

The Blue Devils' little big man did the job, earning his second trip to the state competition.

The question for Tallmadge was whether any of his teammates would join him.

Perhaps the least known of the Blue Devils' four talented sophomores answered that question.

Tallmadge fans, meet Jake Potok.

Suber and Potok each finished third in their respective weight classes at Alliance. The top four finishers in each weight class at the Alliance district meet advanced to the state competition.

Both sophomores were set to hit the mat at the Division II state meet March 9 in at Value City Arena in Columbus.

The Blue Devils finished 15th in the team race at Alliance, which concluded March 4. Canfield won the team title with 151 points.

Head coach Jason Shaw noted it is the first first time Tallmadge has had multiple state qualifiers since 2009.

"The goal was to get more than one down [to Columbus]," he said. "In my mind, I thought we could get a few guys down there."

Shaw noted Suber and Potok took care of business after a disastrous morning session for the Blue Devils.

Tallmadge had four wrestlers alive in the second consolation round March 4, but 145-pounder JT Teets, 160-pounder Richie Eyre, 170-pounder Dan Hepler and 285-pounder Connor Franks all lost, eliminating them from the tournament.

"That first round was one of the worst rounds I've ever seen," Shaw said. "We weren't ready. Except for Dan Hepler, who's a senior, it's a learning experience that we need to take."

The good news for the Blue Devils was Suber and Potok each had wrestled their way to the semifinals March 4.

Suber looked like the favorite at 106 pounds in his first two matches. He pinned Salem's Jacob Frost in 1 minute, 30 seconds and then scored a 4-3 win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Hunter Olson.

However, Suber's semifinal was a study in frustration.

He faced Beloit West Branch's Christian Wayt. Suber seemed in control, as he took a 3-0 lead in the second period with an escape and a takedown. However, Wayt escaped in the third period and benefited from three stalling calls, tying it at 3-3 after regulation.

The match went all the way to the ultimate tie-breaker, where Wayt rode Suber out to score a 4-3 win.

To say the Tallmadge coaches were unhappy with the stalling calls was an understatement.

"You can only control certain factors out there and referees aren't one of them," Shaw said. "He just went out and put it on the Streetsboro kid."

Indeed, needing a win to advance to the state meet, Suber tore up Streetsboro's Sean Neff, reversing him onto his back and pinning him in 3:19.

Suber then took third place when Olson defaulted due to injury.

Suber was set to open his state meet by facing Oberlin Firelands' Payton Burgdorf.

Meanwhile at 132 pounds, Potok opened the tournament by pinning Chagrin Falls' Justin Raymer in 3:54 and beating Ravenna's Caleb Smith 3-1.

In the semifinal, Potok wrestled hard against St. Vincent-St. Mary's Luke Wymer, but Wymer shut down Potok's offense to win 3-0. Wymer went on to win the 132-pound title.

In the consolation semifinal, the key moment came in the second period, when Potok put Norton's Quaid Ivy on his back for a two-point near fall. Ivy got a reversal, but a pair of escapes gave Potok a 4-3 win and his first trip to Columbus.

"We were telling Jake that 132 pounds was the toughest weight class in every tournament we wrestled," Shaw said. "Every tim we've wrestled, Jake has been right there. I told him you need to make sure people know who you are [March 4]. He's in. That's all that matters."

"I kind of like being the underdog a bit," Potok said. "To beat someone like Ivy, I just had to wrestle my way. Hopefully, I can place at states."

Potok completed the tournament by beating Canal Fulton Northwest's Josh Smith in the third-place match. He got the decisive takedown in the sudden-victory period to win 3-1.

Potok was set to open the state meet against Urichsville Claymont's Chandler Golec.

Tallmadge also had freshman 152-pounder Jake Kanatzar and 220-pounder Dimitri Fortseras finish 0-2 at Alliance.


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