Last Saturday, Phillipsburg senior Robert Melise set the program's career pins record on his way to winning the District 9 championship.
One week later, Melise settled for the single-season Phillipsburg pins mark. However, this time around the record-breaking fall brought NJSIAA Region 3 gold with it.
Melise pinned Montclair's Sam Mellow in 58 seconds to win the Region 3 220-pound title Saturday at West Orange High School.
It was the 28th fall of the winter for Melise, another new record for the senior.
"It was the same feeling as breaking the record for most pins in a career," Melise said. "It was a really fun time. It felt great."
Melise pinned Mellow in 1:17 to win the district title last Saturday. That was his 70th pin of his career. In the region championship, the senior did it 19 seconds faster. Those losses are the only two for Mellow on the season.
"I love kids that are long and lanky like that because I can get to any leg attack I want, basically. So, long legs helps out a lot," Melise said of Mellow.
"If Robert wrestles like that, there's just nobody who can beat him," Phillipsburg coach Dave Post said. "I think this weekend we saw four or five takedowns that we've never seen him hit in his entire career. Scoring from his front headlock, shooting double legs. He's usually high-crotch and single-leg. But today he really opened up. Even in the short time he was wrestling, it just shows the gap between him and the rest of the field. If he does that against all the other guys down in Atlantic City, he's going to be on top of the podium."
What is Melise's secret to success when it comes to all these pins?
"Keep my pace up," Melise said. "I wrestle at the pace of a 160, 170-pounder. So if I can keep that up, not many 220s can continue to wrestle that kind of pace with me. So, if I keep that pace up, nobody can hang."
The Phillipsburg senior is now off for one more try at gold in Atlantic City. He finished fifth as a sophomore and second last season.
Melise is feeling very prepared entering next week's tournament.
"I don't think there's another team in New Jersey that practices quite the way we do," Melise said. "With the guys that I practice with. I practice with our coaching staff. I practice with a couple of old wrestlers that come back that are much bigger than they were in high school that teach me how to use little guy moves on big guys. I'm in a very lucky category as far as who I've been brought up with. I had Nacho (Kyle Nothnagel) the last two years. Then I got Drew (Horun) right below me. So I'm in a spot where I got a heavyweight who's going to push me to get stronger, get quicker and I got a 195-pounder who's going to push me to learn moves and to be able to move as these quick little guys. So I'm in a really good spot. I've got good wrestlers on either side."
Josh Folck may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoshFolck. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.
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