LOPATCONG TWP. -- In some respects, it was just another night at the office for Phillipsburg senior Robert Melise. But this one came with a bonus.
Melise decked Warren Hills senior Brody Oberly in 29 seconds at 220 pounds -- giving the returning state runner-up his 100th career win and propelling the Stateliners to a 37-24 victory in the 70th meeting between Skyland Conference Raritan Division rivals at Phillipsburg High School.
"It felt great," said Melise, who improved to 100-20 overall. "It's definitely a good milestone."
Phillipsburg (6-1, 4-0 division) took another step toward notching its 21st title with just two division road matches left -- North Hunterdon on Jan. 25 and Voorhees on Feb. 1. The 'Liners are in the midst of another rugged week with Hanover Park on Thursday night and the big one against Easton (Pa.) here on Saturday night.
"We've faced a schedule like this all year. It's just the norm around here," said Melise, who joined a list of just 22 P'burg wrestlers to amass 100 wins, which includes current head coach Dave Post (111-22 from 1999-2003).
"I remember mine also came by fall against a Warren Hills kid, so it's kind of special," said Post, who picked up his 102nd coaching win, while improving to 7-0 all-time against Warren Hills. "We just tried to keep Robert focused on the task at hand. We know Oberly is a tough kid, so we told Robert to just go out and attack."
Melise was forced to take the mat a little quicker than he expected after senior Drew Horun needed just 21 seconds to flatten Ethan Young, using a bearhug and trip to get the fall that put P'burg ahead 22-15 with five bouts to go. Horun now has 97 wins and should join the prestigious 100 club next week.
"Honestly, I wasn't expecting Drew to pin his kid as quick as he did," said Melise, who pointed to the P'burg student section to acknowledge their support after coming back to the center of the mat for a curtain call. "But for me, it doesn't matter. You go out and do the job and come back [to the bench]. Drew will be the next [to reach the century mark]."
Junior Cullen Day (106) and sophomore Travis Jones (113) helped seal the Stateliners' 56th win in the series vs. the Blue Streaks with bonus-point wins. Day worked Greg Slivka for a 17-1 technical fall in 6:00, while the ever-improving Jones collected five points off a peterson in the third period en route to a 17-4 major that iced it.
Warren Hills (7-7, 0-5) was able to make P'burg sweat a little early on by having senior Zach Nauta (138) and sophomore Nick Galka (182) drop down a weight class each. After former Blue Streak Cody Harrison worked Codey O'Rourke, making his return to the lineup from an ankle injury, for a 10-0 major to open the match, senior Matt Valli got the visitors on the board with an exhausting 18-11 win over sophomore Kyle Tino.
Valli jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first period and racked up seven of Warren Hills' 15 takedowns, but gave up two takedowns in the final two periods and had to settle for a decision. Nauta followed with an 8-4 win over Lance Wissing to give the Streaks a 6-4 advantage in the team score and their only lead of the night.
Phillipsburg won key matchups at 145 and 160 to put a serious dent in Warren Hills' hopes for an upset and the program's first win in the series since 1990. Jayson Zinsmeister used a second-period reversal for a 7-6 win over Cameron Nauta, while Shamyr Brodders converted a takedown with 1 second left in sudden-victory overtime for a 3-1 decision over Ryan Beckler. Galka's 3-2 win over Dan Fisher cut the deficit to 16-15, but that's as close as the Streaks would get the rest of the way.
"Every match, you think if you can swing that one and swing that one," said coach Jarrett Hosbach, now 0-12 against his alma mater. "[The lineup moves] kind of worked. We didn't think that straight up, we could be very competitive. We thought this was out best chance to win. We just didn't make 13 points worth of moves."
One move that Hosbach admitted he thought about doing, but didn't, was bumping senior Rashon Wade Taylor from 152 to 160 to avoid a matchup with Phillipsburg junior Brian Meyer, a returning Region 1 champion, at 152. Meyer figured to get six, and he did, while Wade Taylor might have been a better matchup against Brodders.
"Size-wise, we're not gigantic at 152," Hosbach said. "Brodders is a big 160, and Beckler has been wrestling real well for us."
Post figured he would see Wade Taylor vs. Brodders, but didn't anticipate the other lineup moves by Warren Hills.
"We knew they had to do something at 145, you can't have one of your best kids [Nauta] lose by technical fall [the result against Meyer on Saturday at the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament]," Post said. "We caught wind [Wednesday] morning that they might be coming down. We knew from looking at the weigh-ins on Saturday that they didn't have a lot of time to get down. We just kind of shrugged it off."
PHILLIPSBURG 37, WARREN HILLS 24
126 -- So. Cody Harrison (8-3), P, md. Jr. Codey O'Rourke (4-5), 10-0.
132 -- Sr. Matt Valli (18-3), WH, d. So. Kyle Tino (6-10), 18-11.
138 -- Sr. Zach Nauta (18-2), WH, d. Jr. Lance Wissing (3-5), 8-4.
145 -- So. Jayson Zinsmeister (5-9), P, d. Jr. Cameron Nauta (3-5), 7-6.
152 -- Jr. Brian Meyer (18-6), P, p. Sr. Rashon Wade Taylor (10-10), 3:16.
160 -- Jr. Shamyr Brodders (4-8), P, d. Sr. Ryan Beckler (8-9), 3-1 SV.
170 -- Jr. Jarod Ostir (17-4), WH, p. Fr. Cody Cruts (0-1), :24.
182 -- So. Nick Galka (15-7), WH, d. Sr. Dan Fisher (7-7), 3-2.
195 -- Sr. Drew Horun (20-4), P, p. Jr. Ethan Young (0-1), :21.
220 -- Sr. Robert Melise (17-2), P, p. Sr. Brody Oberly (9-6), :29.
285 -- Sr. Taylan Zafis (15-7), WH, p. Sr. Justen Caraballo (6-11), 5:47.
106 -- Jr. Cullen Day (17-5), P, tf. Fr. Greg Slivka (6-12), 17-1, 6:00.
113 -- So. Travis Jones (14-6), P, md. Fr. Logan Nauta (8-8), 17-4.
120 -- Jr. Kyle Wulff (15-6), WH, d. Jr. Tyris Manley (4-6), 5-1.
Records -- Warren Hills 7-7, 0-5; Phillipsburg 6-1, 4-0.
Referee -- Mike Internoscia.
Note -- Robert Melise recorded his 100th career win.