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Given the number of state powers at the Suburban League Tournament, it was always going to be a tough climb for the young Stow-Munroe Falls wrestling team.
However, there was one big development for the Bulldogs at the league tournament: All-Ohioan Joe Andrassy is back.
After missing the first half of the season with a broken foot, Andrassy returned to the lineup and took second place at 160 pounds for the Bulldogs.
While Andrassy's return helped, Stow still finished toward the back of the pack at the league meet. Stow finished 12th overall in the 15-team field with 57.5 points, which was good for sixth place among National Conference teams.
Stow ended up tied with Cuyahoga Falls for sixth place overall in the National Conference.
Wadworth won the tournament and the National Conference with a 284 points, while Brecksville-Broadview Heights was second with 228 points.
Needless to say, Stow coach Randy Jenkins was happy to have his main man back.
"I'm very excited that Joe is back and healthy," Jenkins said. "He's been training this last month to get in shape. It's not perfect yet, but he's going to be fine. His goal is in March."
Despite not wrestling this season, Andrassy was given the No. 1 seed at the tournament.
After wrestling last season at 170 pounds, coaches noted Andrassy had no problems getting down to 160 this year.
After a bye, Andrassy opened with a 16-1 technical fall over Brecksville's Wilson Strnad, followed by a 9-3 win over Hudson's Austin Mullen in the semifinal.
In the final, however, Andrassy had to deal with fellow All-Ohioan Cody Surratt of Wadsworth. Surratt scored a 7-2 win to take the title.
For the rest of the Bulldogs, the struggles continued, as Stow's only other podium finish came from 195-pounder Tim Manley.
Manley started slow, as he was pinned in 3:07 by Revere's Thomas Baker.
In the consolation bracket, however, Manley responded with pins over Barberton's Dakota Harbaugh (1:24) and Medina Highland's Nate Polick (2:54) to reach the fifth-place match.
In the fifth-place match, Manley dropped a tight 3-2 decision to North Royalton's Lazar Gasic and took sixth place.
"The kids struggled a bit, which you have to expect against teams like Wadsworth and Brecksville," Jenkins said.
Stow was set to close out the regular season Feb. 11 by hosting Tallmadge, but results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs will open the postseason at the Division I sectional tournament at Kenston Feb. 25. The top four placers in each weight class at Kenston advance to the district tournament at North Canton Hoover.