By Oliver Astone
Six of the best high school teams in the country, including five ranked in the FloWrestling Top 25, are going head-to-head at the MyHouse Melee this Friday and Saturday at Wyoming Seminary College Prep in Kingston, PA.
Here's a look at five individual matchups we can't wait to see this weekend.
1. 120lb Zeke Escelera, Wyoming Seminary (PA) vs. #2 Robert Howard, Bergen Catholic (NJ) and #4 Joey Melendez, Montini Catholic (IL)
It’s been a little up and down for Zeke Escelera since the season started. The Cadet Fargo champion went DNP at Ironman, but then he had a good tournament at Powerade, taking third in a tough bracket.
While he ran into some trouble in #4 Wyoming Seminary's dual against #2 Blair Academy, giving up the fall to Michael Colaiocco, Escelera got back on track with a win in the Blue Knights’ trouncing of #12 Bethlehem Catholic (PA).
Things do not get easier for Escelera this weekend, as he’s slated to face off with two top five wrestlers in Robert Howard of top-ranked Bergen Catholic and Joey Melendez of #3 Montini Catholic. Lets see if Escelara can stay on track and pull an upset over one or maybe two of the nation’s top-ranked wrestlers.
2) 120lb #2 Robert Howard, Bergen Catholic (NJ) vs. #4 Joey Melendez, Montini Catholic (IL)
Howard has been on fire the whole month of January. He started the month by winning a tough bracket at Doc Buchanan, and then he beat Colaiocco, the #1 wrestler in the country at the time, at the Who’s Number One Duals. Let’s see if Howard can keep the hot streak going against Melendez, an Ironman and Fargo finalist.
Melendez has had a tough time getting the job done in big matches, losing to Patrick McKee in the Fargo finals and dropping one in the Ironman finals to Colaiocco. However, Melendez did change his losing ways in the finals of Cheesehead when he beat Sam Latona.
Robert Howard Knocks Off Michael Colaiocco At WNO Duals:
3) 132lb #12 Bryce Andonian, St. Edward (Ohio) vs. #5 Carson Manville or #9 Jack Davis, Wyoming Seminary (PA)
Wyoming Seminary has an embarrassment of riches at 132lb. The Blue Knights have two wrestlers ranked in the top 10: Eastern States champion Jack Davis and Powerade champion Carson Manville, who is fresh off a win over Super 32 champ Ryan Anderson at 138lb.
It’s going to be interesting to see whom Wyoming Seminary sends out against Bryce Andonian, who has recently knocked off a pair of top 10 wrestlers in #8 Kevon Davenport and #3 JD Stickley.
Can Andonian keep climbing the rankings ladder with a win over Davis or Manville this week?
4) 182lb #14 Darrien Roberts, Wyoming Seminary (PA) vs. #8 Jacob Cardenas, Bergen Catholic (NJ)
Jacob Cardenas had a big win over Leo Tarantino in Bergen Catholic’s upheaval of Blair. Meanwhile, Tarantino owns a victory over Darrien Roberts in the Blair vs. Wyoming Seminary dual. Roberts was able to turn it around and get a win against Bethlehem Catholic, a dual in which we saw all the Blue Knights wrestle a lot better at home.
This matchup may become a crucial swing match if Wyoming Seminary wants to take out the #1 team in the nation in Bergen Catholic. Can Roberts and Wyoming Seminary put the home-field advantage to use and get the wins they need?
5) 132lb #3 Real Woods, Montini Catholic (IL) vs. #5 Carson Manville, Wyoming Seminary (PA)
This top five matchup is a real clash of styles. A senior, Real Woods is a quick and slick wrestler who works well from distance with dangerous shots from the outside.
Manville, who has been on a hot streak in beating Gavin Teasdale and Ryan Anderson this month, is a freshman hammer who stalks his opponent in his square stance and dominates ties on the inside. Both of these guys can get scrappy, as we saw in their wars with Joey Silva.
It was Manville who came out on top of an overtime match against Silva, and Woods lost to Silva in the infamous "Shoegate" Ironman final. We may see Wyoming Seminary put Jack Davis out here, but this would make for a marquee matchup. Would it be the slick senior or the hammering freshman who gets the win? Tune in to the MyHouse Melee this week to find out.