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We’re now less than 31 days from the most anticipated high school wrestling event in a long time. 15 incredible matches will take place between a certain weight’s top wrestlers. Headlining the event, a powerful three-man group of 138-pounders.
Typically, Who’s #1 matches are just between the top two wrestlers at a given weight. Sometimes, however, the next guy or two in line have a legitimate shot at, and claim to, the highest ranking. This was the case this year at 138 lbs.
Originally, #1 Shayne Van Ness was slated to put his #1 ranking on the line against #4 Jordan Williams and then face the winner of #2 Joel Vandervere and #3 Jesse Mendez. However, Van Ness suffered a broken tibia and was forced to withdraw. Although the #1 ranking is no longer on the line, and this is now just a three-man group, this group still packs a major punch.
Vandervere and Mendez split in the two matches they wrestled in 2019. In freestyle, Mendez won the first 14-11, and in folkstyle, Vandervere won the second in the ultimate tiebreaker 1-1. That is why Vandervere currently sits at #2 and Mendez at #3. Williams has yet to compete against any of the top three at 138 as he is coming up from 126 lbs.
Watch Vandervere and Mendez’s first match from 2019 FloNationals below.
Watch Vandervere and Mendez’s second match from 2019 Super 32 below.
Now, let’s break down each wrestler individually and see what to expect October 3rd.
#2 Joel Vandervere: Illinois
High School: Warren Township
Club: Team Hensley
- 2020 Illinois state champ
- 2019 Super 32 champ
- Committed to Northwestern
While not exactly unknown, Vandervere really established himself as a blue-chip recruit at 2019 Super 32, where he went through four ranked wrestlers on his way to a title. At the time, Joel beat #15 Anthony Clark, #11 Patrick Noonan, #6 Kenny Herrmann, and #2 Jesse Mendez in Greensboro.
Watch Joel Vandervere win a Super 32 belt over Harvard commit Kenny Herrmann below.
Don’t blink when you watch Vandervere wrestle, you might miss his double leg from the outside. That double, along with an arm drag boot scoot are his two main offensive attacks. Pair those with outstanding defense and you have one of the best neutral wrestlers in the country. On top, the Illinois native is going to look to slip in his boots and watch out for the cradle.
#3 Jesse Mendez: Indiana
High School: Crown Point
Club: Region Wrestling Academy/Bulldog Premiere Wrestling Club
- Two-time Indiana state champ
- 2019 Cadet World Team member
- 1-1 at 2019 Who’s #1
Jesse Mendez only wrestles exciting matches, and 99% of the time, he wins them. In his two matches at last year’s Who’s #1 event, the Indiana native put up 18 points in two one-point matches.
Watch Mendez defeat now NC State freshman Ryan Jack at 2019 Who’s #1 below.
Even in his loss to Van Ness, Mendez got up 6-0 before Van Ness did P4P #2 type things and came back. Mendez got up big by throwing the kitchen sink at Shayne with zero fear. If he’ll do that to Van Ness, he’ll do it to anyone.
In the Cadet WTT finals, Mendez once again used his freestyle savvy to get ahead of Anthony Ferrari in another one-point match before Ferrari threw himself to his back giving Mendez a 9-4 victory.
Watch Mendez take out Anthony Ferrari in the 2019 Cadet WTT finals below.
Jesse recently announced his top school list, which you can view HERE.
#4 Jordan Williams: Oklahoma
High School: Collinsville
Club: Threestyle Wrestling of Oklahoma
- Two-time Fargo champ
- Super 32 champ
- Two-time Oklahoma state champ
#4 at 138 and #5 on the 2022 Big Board, Jordan Williams is right behind Mendez in the rankings, but can be just as exciting. The Collinsville, Oklahoma native earned the nickname “The Iceman” because when he’s down late and needs a score to win, he gets it. At Fargo 2019 alone The Iceman did it in the round of 16, the quarters, and the finals. He also did it against #2 at 126 and fellow Who’s #1 competitor Dean Peterson at 2019 Super 32.
Watch Williams take out #2 at 126 Dean Peterson below.
Also similar to Mendez, Williams is extremely freestyle savvy, dangerous from any position and isn’t afraid to go feet to back.
The concern for Williams here could be size. He’ll be competing for the first time up two weight classes. I wouldn’t worry about that too much, however. Williams has a lanky frame that could still continue to fill out. He has also proven multiple times that bumping up will be no issue for him. After all, he did win Fargo in 2018 at 100 lbs.
Jordan recently announced his top school list, which you can view HERE.
This will be the fourth multiple-man weight group at Who’s #1. Below is the all-time history of four man brackets at WNO.
2019: 132 lbs
2018: 138 lbs
2015: 132 lbs
2013: 132 lbs