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by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Akron -- Heading into the Bill Dies Memorial Tournament, Tallmadge head wrestling coach Jason Shaw expressed hope that his finally healthy squad could find some improved form.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the Dies tournament turned out to be every bit as rough as the rest of the season thus far.
Shaw summed it up on day one Jan. 18.
"We're getting beat up a little bit," he said.
Tallmadge finished 34th in the 40-team field Jan. 19 with 38 points.
The Blue Devils did earn a single individual podium finish.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights dominated the field with 255 points.
The tournament took place at Akron Firestone High School.
Senor 106-pounder Dallas Testa came the closest to reaching the podium.
Testa opened by pinning Rootstown's Mason Radtke in 1 minute, 8 seconds, but then lost 9-0 to Manchester's Joey Brown.
Testa then pinned Kenmore's Travis McClellan in 1:49 and Medina Buckeye's Justin Montinaro in 1:12.
However, one win shy of the podium, Testa was defeated by Elyria's Nico O Dor 9-1.
Tallmadge also had 138-pounder Danny Amato, 160-pounder Justin Paonessa, 195-pounder Jake Wiegand, 220-pounder Travis Darago and heavyweight Ben Cipa reach the third consolation round before bowing out.
On Jan. 23, the Blue Devils took part in the inaugural Division II state team wrestling tournament.
Tallmadge was the No. 7 seed in Region 11-B of the state team tournament and had to travel to Akron Coventry for its opening match.
The territory and opposition may been familiar for Shaw -- he's a science teacher at Coventry High School -- but the Comets showed little mercy, beating the Blue Devils 51-19.
Tallmadge managed to win only four of 14 individual matches, two of which came via forfeit. At 106 pounds, Testa squeezed out an 8-7 win over Coventry's Tucker Pearce.
Then, Blue Devils' 113-pounder Alex McGraw and 120-pounder Tyler Severns each won via forfeit.
Up 15-0 at the point, Tallmadge saw Coventry win 10 of the final 11 matches.
Tallmadge's only other win came at 170 pounds as senior Troy Stricker defeated Randy Brady by a 14-5 major decision.
The Blue Devils were set to participate at the Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament Jan. 25 and 26 at Austintown Fitch High School, but results were not available at press time.
Up next for the Blue Devils is the Suburban League Tournament, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 2 at Green. First match is set for 10 a.m.