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AKRON -- The Tallmadge wrestling team continues to make the kind of progress head coach Jason Shaw is looking for.
The Blue Devils made the trip to Copley Jan. 12 for a tri-meet in the Suburban League American Conference.
Tallmadge easily got past Highland 59-9 in the first match. However, the big news came in the nightcap as the Blue Devils edged Copley 33-32.
Tallmadge got pins from 106-pounder Ed Suber IV, 160-pounder Richie Eyre and 220-pounder Dimitri Fortseras in the win over the Indians.
The Blue Devils improved to 4-0 in the American Conference with the wins. When asked about the last time Tallmadge beat Copley, Blue Devils coach Jason Shaw said "maybe 2004."
"We told them it was a big deal to get that win," Shaw said. "We had a pretty good team in 2004, but we're not sure we won even then."
Shaw hoped his team could carry the momentum from the wins into the 30th annual Bill Dies Memorial Tournament Jan. 13 and 14 at the new Firestone High School.
Tallmadge had an up-and-down weekend at the Dies, finishing 22nd in the team race with 62 points.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights won the team title at the Dies with 233, holding off a late charge from Elyria (227).
While noting he would have liked for his team to do better, Shaw noted the field at the Dies has become much stronger in recent years.
"I think it's every bit as good as the (Alliance) Top Gun, if not better," Shaw said. "Our kids battled. That's all you can ask for."
Shaw noted he had nine wrestlers at the Dies, all of whom won at least one match.
As expected, Suber led the charge for the Blue Devils by taking fourth place at 106 pounds.
Suber tore threw the early rounds, pinning Parma's Chris Mounts in 43 seconds, sticking Crestwood's Brett Szuhay in 3:29 and beating Brecksville's Jack Stanley 17-4 to the reach the semifinals.
However, Suber suffered a 16-8 loss to the eventual weight class champion in the semifinals, but he rebounded to beat Olmsted Falls' Michael Shaw 5-3 in the consolation semifinal.
In the third-place match, Suber faced Olentangy Liberty's Blake Saito, who looked to have at least a 10-pound weight advantage when they stepped on the mat. Neither wrestler scored a takedown, but Suber could not get out from under Saito in the third period and lost 1-0.
"It's not what he wants, but he did better than last year," Shaw said. "That kid (Saito) was definitely a lot bigger. He was in a tough weight class this year, so getting on the podium was big."
Tallmadge's other podium finish at the Dies came on the other end of the scale. Heavyweight Conner Franks took fifth place.
Franks reached the semifinals by pinning Firestone's Ruben Durkee in 1:39 and defeated Copley's William Gallien 4-2 in the ultimate tie-breaker round.
However, Frankswas pinned in 4:48 by second-seeded Mason Giordano of Canfield and lost 4-0 to Brecksville's Zach D'Anna.
Shaw chose to forfeit Franks in the fifth-place against Woodridge's Austin Hindley due to a shoulder injury.
"Our expectation is to have Connor ready for February," Shaw said. "The key is confidence. I don't think Connor realizes how good he can be at this point."
The Blue Devils also had Eyre and 132-pounder Jake Potok advance to the quarterfinals at the Dies, but both wrestlers lost their first two matches Jan. 14 and were eliminated.
Tallmadge had another busy weekend on tap beginning with its final American Conference tri-meet at home Jan. 19 with Aurora and Barberton. The Blue Devils were scheduled to wrestle at the Josh Hephner Memorial Invitational Jan. 20 and 21 at Austintown-Fitch High School. Results of these matches were not available at press time.
Tallmadge is set to open its run in the Division II state dual team tournament this week. The Blue Devils were given the No. 6 seed in the Division II, Region 10-B bracket and will open the tournament Jan. 25 against Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.