When it comes to the sectional competition, everything went according to plan for the Tallmadge wrestling team.
However, the plan could change once the Blue Devils return to the mats for a far more prestigious competition.
And that’s just fine with head coach Jason Shaw.
Tallmadge finished sixth with 108 points at a Division II sectional tournament Saturday at Northwest High School in Canal Fulton.
Louisville won the competition with 242.5 points. Rounding out the top five were Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (180.5), Lodi Cloverleaf (131), Norton (129.5) and Akron Coventry (120).
Four Blue Devils advanced to the district competition, which is scheduled to take place this Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday (9:30 a.m.) at Alliance High School. They also have three district alternates.
"We were expecting at least four district qualifiers going into the sectionals and ended up getting four," Shaw said.
Senior captain Richie Eyre and junior captain Jesse Kanatzar won sectional titles in their respective weight classes.
Eyre, who has won more than 100 career matches for Tallmadge, defeated Canton South’s Tyler Williams 8-3 to win the 160-pound championship.
"Richie controlled the entire championship match from start to finish," Shaw said. "He didn't give Williams time to breathe and his riding time was awesome."
Eyre pinned Coventry’s A.J. McCants in 57 seconds to reach the final and also earned a pin in 28 seconds in his quarterfinal match against Akron Springfield’s Christian Alvarado. Eyre enters the district competition with a sparkling 42-6 record.
Kanatzar claimed the 170-pound title with a hard-fought 12-10 decision against Coventry’s Kaleb Shank.
He defeated Mogadore Field’s Dallas McAmis 9-5 in his semifinal match and Louisville’s Justice Bolyard by a 9-1 major decision in his quarterfinal match to improve to 41-5 this winter.
"Jesse had a very exciting match to say the least," Shaw said. "Jesse was winning 5-3 and in control and then gave up a five-point move to go down on Coventry's Kaleb Shank in the second period. Jesse then went on a rampage, taking Shank down four times to win."
The Blue Devils also had a sectional runner-up.
Sophomore Nate Amato lost a 10-2 major decision to Coventry’s Austin Hinman in the 182-pound title match.
He pinned Akron Archbishop Hoban’s Luke Petit in one minute in his semifinal match and Springfield’s David Delisi in 29 seconds in his quarterfinal match. Amato improved to 11-3.
"Nate Amato came into the sectional with not a lot of mat time due to injury," Shaw said. "His match against Austin Hinzman was a good match for Nate to knock some rust off and improve his cardio. Each match is making him better."
Tallmadge’s other qualifier was Ben Blankenship (26-13), who captured third at 220 pounds. He earned a 36-second pin against Hoban’s Drew Pasadyn to get the bronze.
Josh Heatwall (120), Jake Spataro (195) and Sam Whitehurst (heavyweight) placed fifth for the Blue Devils.
Heatwall had two pins and Whitehurst finished with one pin.
"With a little luck, we’re hoping to get them in as well," Shaw said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.