To assess the Tallmadge wrestling team’s performance at the Brush Duals Saturday in Lyndhurst, it would be advisable not to look at the team scores.
In terms of the team scores, the Blue Devils went 2-3 at Brush. They defeated Akron North 56-18 and Cleveland John Adams 43-42, while losing 48-36 to Brunswick, 42-30 to Maple Heights and 39-27 to Eastlake North.
Now the other half of the story: Tallmadge was without three of its top wrestlers with Fred Berry, Rich Eyre and Connor Franks absent due to injuries. Then, it lost Jake Kanatzar to a possible neck injury in the second match.
Thus, the Blue Devils gave up 36 points worth of forfeits in their final four matches at Brush, making it next to impossible to win dual meets.
Given that, what possible good news could come out of Brush for Tallmadge?
"In actual matches, we went 33-8," said Blue Devils head coach Jason Shaw. "That’s an 80-percent winning percentage. I’ll take that every time. We had five kids go 5-0.
"We told everyone has to win and everyone has to pin in order for us to have a chance. We won six out of eight matches. We started with nine guys going into this. Against Akron North, every kid won."
Tallmadge ended up taking fourth place in the eight-team duals. Maple Heights won the team title at Brush.
Another good piece of news for the Blue Devils was Kanatzar appears to be fine and could be back in the lineup this week.
Senior 145-pounder Logan Rickenbacher looked impressive as he had five pins at Brush.
"He was a lot stronger than the kids he wrestled," Shaw said. "He definitely looked more powerful than he has been."
Perhaps motivated when his brother went down, sophomore Jesse Kanatzar went 5-0 with four pins and a forfeit win. The younger Kanatzar bounced between the 170- and 182-pound weight classes.
"He was much better with his shot selection this year," Shaw said. "He had a couple of good matches. He was smart."
The surprise package for Tallmadge was junior 132-pounder Cody Lombardi, who finished with five pins in his first varsity matches.
"I was pleasantly surprised with his performance," Shaw said. "I think he stole the show. Nobody was expecting it."
Given a chance to start at 220 pounds, sophomore Ben Blankenship came up with two decisions, two pins and a forfeit.
"He is another one who wrestled smart against a few guys that were probably stronger than him," Shaw said. "He was working his moves pretty well."
Finally, freshman Nate Amato also had a perfect tournament, finishing with three pins, one decision and one forfeit while bouncing between 182 and 195 pounds.
"He had quite a few of these guys where they saw ‘freshman’ next to his name and left the match wondering ‘What’s going on here?’" Shaw said of Amato. "This kid came out and dominated. He came out and beat a very strong Maple Heights’ kid. By midseason, everyone is going to know who he is."
With Franks out, junior heavyweight Sam Whitehurst filled in well, going 4-1 with one pin.
Tallmadge was set to compete at the Wayne Invitational Tournament at Smithville Friday and Saturday. First match Friday is set for 5 p.m.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to open Suburban League American Conference competition next Thursday when it travels to Revere to face the Minutemen and Highland. First match is at 6 p.m.