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COLUMBUS -- When it comes to the state wrestling tournament, coaches will tell you there is no substitute for experience.
The wisdom was proven by the results from Tallmadge's two sophomores at the Division II state tournament, which took place March 9 to 11 at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Sophomore 106-pounder Ed "Rock" Suber, who was wrestling at his second straight state tournament, won some close matches to finish in seventh place. It was Suber's first All-Ohio honor.
Meanwhile, sophomore 132-pounder Jake Potok, who was wrestling his first state tournament, went 0-2 in Columbus and finished off the podium.
The Blue Devils finished with six team points, tying for 53rd place. St. Paris Graham won the Division II state title for the 17th straight time with 232.5 points.
"We're very proud of what both of the guys have done," Tallmadge head coach Jason Shaw said. "We had four seniors this year, but we've got a young, nice core coming back. We've got a very good future coming back."
Suber opened the tournament with a bang, as he dominated Oberlin Firelands' Peyton Burgdorf with a 12-2 major-decision win. However, Burgdorf recovered to take fourth at 106.
In the quarterfinals, Suber had to tangle with Lisbon Beaver's Cole McComas. It was a tight match, but McComas scored the winning takedown in the last 30 seconds to score a 3-1 win. McComas went on to place second.
"That first match was tough," Shaw said. "To lose it in the final 30 seconds is hard to come back from. I think he carried some of that match into his next match."
Indeed, Suber looked sluggish early in his first consolation match against West Holmes' Thane Kaufman. However, Suber forced a late stalling call to tie the match and nearly won it at the buzzer. He wasted little time in the sudden-victory period, spinning behind Kaufman to get the winning takedown and a 4-2 win.
"I knew I could get that [go behind] anytime I needed it," Suber said.
In the next round, Suber was involved in another tight match, but he lost 3-2 to Graham's Tanner Jordan and dropped to the seventh-place match.
In the seventh-place match, Suber was trailing Circleville's Trey Finnearty in the third period, but he forced a stalling call and escaped in the last 15 seconds to score a 2-1 win. Suber finished with a 43-9 record.
"Overall, I'm not too happy about it," Suber said. "I came down here to win. I know I have some things to work on."
"The kids work year-round at this, so we know he'll get better," Shaw said. "His primary goal is always to win states."
As for Potok, his first state tournament lasted only two rounds.
Potok got hit with a bit of a tough draw, as he had to face Urichsville Claymont All-Ohioan Chandler Golec in the first round. Potok showed no fear, going right at Golec, but he lost a 6-3 decision.
Dropping to the consolation round, Potok faced Wapakoneta's Jayden Hefner and lost a 7-3 decison. Hefner went on to finish fifth at 132 pounds.
Potok finished the season at 37-16.
"Jake has been in every tournament, battling through the toughest weight class, it seems," Shaw said. "He wrestled two quality wrestlers and wasn't overwhelmed. We know Jake is only going to get better."