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January 30, 2014

Battle tested

North Andover shines in duel of individual standouts, roll past Methuen

NORTH ANDOVER — Winning the war may have been most important for North Andover last night, but winning the individual battles wasn’t far behind.

And they certainly added some spice to the Knights’ 43-20 victory over Methuen.

North Andover, which remained unbeaten in the Merrimack Valley Conference and improved to 18-2 overall, was certainly favored to defeat the Rangers, but positive results in the marquee matchups padded the margin of victory.

Three in particular stood out, with Peter Taylor’s 5-0 victory over Billy Wehring at 113 pounds perhaps the most impressive.

Taylor came in with a fine 23-4 record, but he lost twice at the Lowell Holiday Tournament and was facing Billy Wehring, who boasted a 28-1 record with three tournament titles to his credit.

Without giving Wehring much of an opportunity to score, Taylor got a takedown in the first period and an escape and takedown in the third period for the convincing win.

“I always want to wrestle better competition,’ said Taylor. “I didn’t wrestle that well at Lowell so this was definitely redemption, beating the No. 3 guy in the state. This is my comeback.”

Just as impressive was Knights junior Fritz Hoehn. He bumped up a weight class to wrestle Methuen’s unbeaten freshman Darius Franklin at 160 pounds and came away with a solid 8-2 decision.

“I came into the match with my same mindset, but it’s always good to wrestle tough competition,” said Hoehn, who dropped Franklin to 27-1 while improving his record to 22-2.

The third battle wasn’t quite as successful for the Knights, but it was both noteworthy and important. At 138, senior Zane Melillo took on undefeated (32-0, 20 pins) defending New England champion Christian Monserrat and, while losing 16-6, he wrestled tough and stayed off his back, saving valuable team points.

“All three of those guys were great,” said North Andover coach Carl Cincotta. “I was really impressed with Zane. He wanted the challenge (of wrestling Monserrat) and asked for it.”

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