As a result of the COVID-19 school closure, Tallmadge High School was unable to conduct its 2019-20 Winter Sports Recognition Night to honor all of its winter student-athletes.
Instead, the Blue Devils had a digital recognition, which combined the information that would have been shared during the all-sports ceremony along with the awards presented at each individual sport’s ceremony.
A special thanks was given to the following people:
• Maintenance, grounds and custodial teams of Tallmadge City Schools;
• The board of education, administration, teachers and support staff of Tallmadge City Schools;
• Athletic trainer Laurie Regallis and team doctor, Dr. Jeff Bachtel;
• Ticket sellers and takers, scorers’ table and Tallmadge Police;
• Tallmadge Recreation Center and University Park YMCA for use of their facilities;
• Band boosters and concessions and athletic boosters for their support, time and dedication to Tallmadge Middle School and Tallmadge High School athletics;
• Athletic secretary Margaret Chiera, all coaches and their families and all athletes and parents.
Several of Tallmadge High School sports teams also were honored.
The cheerleading squad had a 3.55 grade point average and was led by head coach Nina DiFalco and assistant coaches Kylie Byers, Brittany Currie, JoAnna DiFalco and Amanda Roberts.
Megan Matheny, Cirina Matos and Caroline Peters received the season standout awards and Aubrey Richardson and Olivia Swain earned the six season varsity cheer awards.
Also honored were Megan Allen, Lily Hawkins, Jordyn Sanchez, Analiese Baglia, Makayla Herrle, Sophia Michalak, Emma Sandy, Bella Barile, Mia Hurst, Alexus Stracensky, Carey Cirullo, Skye James, Natalia Place, Dani Stanfield, Madigan Clum, Olivia Jones, Alannah Richardson, Kyli Strub, Aubrey Fox, Madison Kaufman, Kaylee Gowdy, Mayce Ryan, Emillie Waddell and Ava Wood.
"The coaching staff decided to make this season a summary about our favorite memories of the year," DiFalco said. "Coach Kylie’s favorite memory was the freshman game at Ravenna. The team was a little nervous but once they got started, they were incredible.
"Coach Kylie was so proud of them that night. Coach Brittany’s favorite memories were camp, the surprise dance, the Secret Santa, the football senior night,and her last game with her freshman team.
"Coach Amanda’s favorite memory was their team-bonding days bowling and tie-dying t-shirts. Coach Nina and JoAnna agree that their favorite memory, by far, was the surprise dance from varsity.
"All the coaches would like to thank this group of girls for making their first season of coaching better than they could have ever imagined. They are such a dedicated, hard-working and admirable group of young ladies."
The girls swimming team had a 4.0 GPA and the boys swimming squad had a 3.59 GPA. Both teams were led by head coach Kaela Long and assistant coach Joe Sincel.
Sophomores Nick Archer and Jack Markley, who were Division II district qualifiers, and seniors Alessandra DeBlasio and Angelina Norris received honorable mention to the All-Suburban League American Conference team.
Other awards are as follows:
• Four-year swimmers: DeBlasio and Lauren Meadows;
• Captains: DeBlasio, Norris, Meadows and Trenton Wade;
• Most Valuable Swimmers: Archer and Norris; and
• Blue Devil: Markley and Hannah Fiume.
Other swimmers who received recognition were Christopher Fergus, Mia DiVencenzo, Elijah Luedke, Cassandra Jeffries, Joe Sabetta, Esther Layton and Lauren Tan.
"This swim season was a season of growth for all involved," Long said. "With only 14 swimmers, it was difficult for our team to compete by points alone and the scores of each meet don't reflect the work our kids put in.
"Each of our swimmers met at least one of their goals individually and I am confident that next year and in the years to come, the program will grow and we will compete better as a team.
"We are so thankful for the efforts of all of our swimmers throughout the season. Furthermore, we are blessed to have tremendous parents that helped in the execution of our home meets. We are looking forward to next season and the continued growth of our swim program."
The wheelchair basketball team, which was the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio state runner-up for the third consecutive year, had a 3.7 GPA.
The Blue Devils, led by head coach Tom Linder, finished with a school-record 13 wins. Their 12 victories during the regular season also was a school record.
Tallmadge also earned its first shutout in school history when it defeated Jackson 46-0. In a 35-8 victory over Massillon, the Blue Devils had a season-high seven players hit the scoring column.
Isaiah Johnson was named the ASPO Interscholastic Athlete of the Year. He also was named the team’s MVP.
Other awards are as follows:
• Blue Collar Blue Devil: Brennan Heavilin;
• Sportsmanship: Rory Murphy;
• Most improved: Cory Michalec; and
• Bobbi Hindel Inspiration: Sammy Blatt.
Other players honored were Emma Allen, Courtney Kirsch, Shataeya Patton, Ben James, Kayden Ramser, Cerafina Currey, Justin Steele and Iyad Yasin.
The boys basketball team, led by head coach Bill Johnson, had a 3.44 GPA.
The assistant coaches were Scott Campbell, Jon Karnuth and Mike Srodawa.
Senior Brandon Heigelmann earned several awards for the Blue Devils. He received special mention to the Division II All-Ohio team and was a first-team All-Northeast Ohio pick.
Heigelmann, a first-team American Conference selection, also was selected to play in the Summit-Stark All-Star game and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. He was a team captain as well.
Other awards are as follows:
• American Conference second team: senior Danny Kurko;
• American Conference honorable mention: senior Luke Thomas;
• Captains: Ayres and Kurko;
• Defensive Player of the Year: Thomas;
• Blue Devil: Andrew Ayres;
• Coaches: Niko Roldan;
• Unsung hero: Nicholas Lambacher;
• Most improved: Kyle Ries; and
• Steve Mazzaferro: Kurko.
Also recognized were Sam Angerstien, Darren Davis, Ty Hurst, Jackson Schwalbach, Mason Dexter, Ethan Shahan, Mike Carter, Aaron Gergely, Ethan Taylor, Jacob Crangle, William Gergely, Caiden McCoullogh, Sam Taylor, Jonah Crangle, Beau Gromley, Brennen Murray, Evan Teeling, Carson Cowley, Jayden Potok, Isaac Tharp, Nick Cuva, Matt Heigelmann, JT Theisen, Drew Dalton, Will Hudak and Caden Zajac.
"From the start of the season to the end, the freshman team continued to improve on the court," Johnson said. "Even though the record didn't reflect it, the team made strides in the right direction all season long. We are excited for their future in the program.
"The JV (junior varsity) team finished 15 -7 while dealing with a lot of moving parts this season. The roster was always changing and they handled it in stride. This team was fun to watch each and every game as they played so hard and put up points on a nightly basis. Through it all, they managed to end the season on a seven-game win streak with a thrilling double overtime win vs. Highland.
"Eight wins doesn't really reflect how competitive the varsity team was every game. The kids played hard in every game and had a chance to win every time they took the floor. During this season, they were able to beat a 15-win Barberton team after being down 20 at halftime, a Copley team at their place to break Copley’s eight-game win streak and coming back at Aurora in a double-overtime thriller. These kids left it all on the court each game and represented the school and community with great pride."
The girls basketball team, led by head coach Brett Bickar, had a 3.44 GPA.
Tallmadge, which finished 15-10, captured a Division II sectional title during the winter. The Blue Devils’ assistant coaches were Bill Brundson and LeAndra Martin.
Senior Lizzie Bickar received a number of awards for Tallmadge. She was named to the American Conference first team and the All-Northeast Ohio District second team.
Lizzie Bickar also earned honorable mention to the All-Ohio team and was selected to play in the Summit-Stark All-Star game.
The four-year varsity standout was named to the Tri-County Coaches Association first team as well. She also was named the team’s MVP.
Other awards are as follows;
• Tri-County Coaches Association honorable mention: senior Jillian Catalano and freshman Maya Dexter;
• American Conference honorable mention: Dexter;
• Offensive Player of the Year: Dexter;
• Defensive Player of the Year: Addie Bowman; and
• Leadership: Catalano.
Savannah Allebach, Ana Crangle, Katie Hudak, Natalie Ries, Heather Baxter, Gia Currey, Brooke Kuhl, Nina Rodriguez, Lauren Matney, Rae'lya Sibley, Jadyn Harjung, Katie Michalec, Lauren Teeling, Ellie Hudak and Kennedi Rensel were recognized as well.
"The girls team had a very successful season," Coach Bickar said. "The team was very young but had great senior leadership on and off the court.
"The team came together early in the season as everyone accepted their roles and bought into being a great teammate first and foremost. As a result, they won a number of close games and persevered through some significant injuries and a run of sickness during the season.
"The JV battled all season long and made significant strides by season’s end. The varsity won a hard-earned sectional championship. Overall, every player on this team was very committed to getting better every day. They gave great effort every day and made a lot of memories for all of us in the process."
The Tallmadge wrestling team had a 2.76 GPA and featured senior Division II state qualifier Jesse Kanatzar, who was a sectional runner-up. Senior Ben Blankenship also was a sectional runner-up and Gus Fortseras was a district alternate.
The Blue Devils were led by head coach Jason Shaw. His assistants were Dan Amato, Gus Forsteras and Gary Kanaga.
Kanatzar and Blankenship were first-team American Conference selections and senior Josh Heatwall received honorable mention. Both Kanatzar and Blankenship were team captains and they were four-year varsity wrestlers too.
Blankenship also received the John King Award and Matt Kelley was named the team’s most improved wrestler.
Nate Amato, Max Blondin, Matthew Kelley, Josh Berkey, Elijah Pownall, Devin Richter, Brian Blankenship and Mason Rollyson were recognized as well.
"This season looked to be an interesting one with a mix of inexperienced and experienced wrestlers," Shaw said. "The majority of the team was made up of sophomores and freshmen meshed with four upperclassmen.
"The season was one of gaining valuable experience for the younger guys for the future. Our schedule was very challenging and for a young squad, it made for tough results. Our dual meet record was 1-5. However, it doesn’t indicate the improvement the young guys made.
"The Alliance district is one of the toughest districts in the state for wrestling. Ben Blankenship was one match away from getting a chance to advance to the state tournament."
The boys bowling team, which finished sixth at the Division I state tournament, had a 3.5 GPA.
The Blue Devils, led by head coach Scott Krainess and assistant coaches Cindy Elliott, Rich Moore and Mike Swejk, finished 9-2 to place second in the Suburban League. They also won a sectional championship.
The following Tallmadge bowlers received awards:
• Suburban League second team: Parker Braccio, Josh Parry and Robbie Wilson;
• Suburban League honorable mention: Patrick Stachowiak;
• Four-year bowlers: Braccio and Wilson;
• High average: Parry, 210;
• High game: Parry, 289;
• High series (three games): Braccio, 738;
• High series (two games): Wilson, 533; and
• Most improved: Stachowiak.
Also recognized were Kyle Bender, Denny Chumita, Chandler Miller, Hayden Schreiber, Shawn Galloway, Kaiden Cantiberos, Logan Hillbish, Cooper Randolph and Gavin Warren.
"Sixteen teams compete at the state championship tournament," Krainess said. "The format is a total of six games at which time they cut to the top eight. Never in our history have we had a team reach this level.
"The boys did an awesome job qualifying fourth to make the top eight. This earned them a head-to-head match against fifth-seeded Cincinnati La Salle. The boys won the first game before dropping the next."
The girls bowling team, led by the same coaching staff as the boys team, finished eighth at the Division I state tournament and had a 3.73 GPA.
The Blue Devils finished 11-0 to win the Suburban League title and were sectional runners-up.
Tallmadge was the only Division I team that had both of its bowling teams finish in the top eight at the state competition.
Senior Kirsten Moore racked up several awards for the Blue Devils. The three-time state qualifier was named the Suburban League Bowler of the Year. She also received honorable mention to the All-Ohio team and was named the Ohio High School Bowling Coaches Association Female Bowler of the Year.
The four-year varsity standout led the team in scoring average (218) and had the high three-game series (694) and two-game series (505). She also was named the most improved bowler.
Other awards are as follows:
• Suburban League first team: Isabelle Hall;
• Suburban League honorable mention: Morgan Cool;
• Suburban League Female Bowling Coach of the Year: Elliott; and
• High game: Hall, 277.
Nicholette Jurkowski, Grace Parry, Florence Drayer, Makayla Legg, Aileena Sargeant and Dakota Taylor also were honored.
"They also competed very well in the 13 tournaments they participated in, highlighted by winning the Wright State Raider Tournament and the Nordonia Classic Tournament and, along with the boys team, the Martin Luther King Tournament.
"The girls placed fifth at the district tournament, claiming the final spot to advance to the Division I state championship tournament. The Lady Devils fought for each pin and qualified for the final spot by 11 pins.
"This earned them a head-to-head match against top-seeded Springfield, which was 105 pins better than the second-place team. The girls came out strong and beat them in the first game but lost the next three games to finish off a remarkable season."
Seventy-three Tallmadge athletes received the Suburban League Scholar Athlete awards, which were given to students who had at least a 3.5 GPA during the season.
They are Allen, William Gergely, Murray, Angerstien, Gowdy, Norris, Archer, Hall, Parry, Ayres, Brandon Heigelmann, Grace Parry, Bender, Matthew Heigelmann, Peters, Berkey, Herrle, Potok, Lizzie Bickar, Will Hudak, Rensel, Blatt, Ellie Hudak Aubrey Richardson, Bowman, Hudak, Ryan, Braccio, Mia Hurst, Sabetta, Cantiberos Ben James, Emma Sandy, Carter, Jeffries, Sargeant, Catalano, Jurkowski, Schwalbach, Cirullo, Kanatzar, Shahan, Cool, Kaufman, Stanfield, Gia Currey, Kurko, Strub, Cerafina Currey, Layton, Swain, Dalton, Legg, Tan, Mason Dexter, Markley, Lauren Teeling, Maya Dexter, Matheny, Tharp, Drayer, Matos, Warren, Fergus, Meadows, Wilson, Fiume, Cory Michalec, Wood, Fox, Kirsten Moore, Galloway and Murphy.
Overall, Tallmadge’s winter athletes had a 3.52 GPA.