NCAA Tournament: Heilmann and DelVecchio Both Secure All-American Honors; Suriano Becomes Rutgers' First-Ever Finalist


CLEVELAND, OH -The senior class of South Plainfield High School’s “Murderer’s Row”, the 2013 team that earned a group title, two individual state titles, and produced five state placewinners, knows a thing or two about making wrestling history. The 2018 NCAA wrestling tournament marks the last time two standouts from 2013 team, Troy Heilmann and Scott DelVecchio, will be competing in scholastic wrestling.

With one day of competition left in the national tournament, the two former Tigers have already firmly etched their name into the record books. Both wrestlers ended Friday’s completion by securing All-American honors for the first time in their careers, and both will be looking to secure a top-spot in their weight classes brackets come Saturday.

Heilmann, the fourth-seed at 149-pounds earned his way to the semifinals with a victory over Ohio State’s Ke-Shawn Hayes. In the semifinals, Heilmann, a University of North Carolina grappler, drew the toughest outing in the bracket against top-seeded Zain Retherford of Penn State.

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Retherford, a two-time defending national champion, was riding a 93-match winning streak when he entered the semifinal match, and the Penn State grappler proved once again how he earned that record.

The Penn State wrestler connected on four takedowns and earned an escape point and one point for riding during a methodical 10-4 win over Heilmann. The setback knocked Heilmann to the consolation semifinals, but not before he secured his first All-American accolade.

The UNC wrestler will return to the mats on Saturday and will face Grant Leeth (Missouri).  A win in his first consolation match will set Heilmann up for a third place match, while a loss would put him in the fifth place match.

DelVecchio’s road to All-American status certainly wasn’t an easy one, but it was definitely exciting for the fans who got to watch it. DelVecchio, a 133-pound unseeded wrestler out of Rutgers University, started his tournament off with a 4-0 decision loss to 14th-seeded Korbin Myers of Edinboro . The senior Scarlet Knight didn’t let that first result get to him though, as he was able to record wins over Mason Pengilly (Stanford),13th-seeded Bryan Lantry (Buffalo) and Rico Montoya (University of Northern Colorado) to secure a spot in the bloodrounds against Drexel’s seventh-seed Austin DeSanto.

After a scoreless first period, DeSanto used a takedown and a near fall to take a 6-2 lead into the third period. The South Plainfield product had top position to start the third , and trailed 6-3 with 30 seconds left in regulation, after DeSanto drew two stalling calls. DelVecchio’s punishing top control forced two more stalling calls on DeSanto, and also earned the Scarlett Knight one minute and one second of riding time, which was just enough to score the point that forced sudden victory overtime.

When the whistle for overtime came it was apparent that DelVecchio’s attack had visibly worn down the Drexler wrestler. DelVecchio quickly took advantage and landed a takedown that secured his spot on the 133-pound podium. DelVecchio kept the ball rolling with his consolation quarterfinal match against sixth-seeded Scott Parker of Lehigh. A takedown late in the second period, and another takedown late in the the third period gave DelVecchio a 5-2 win over Parker. The Scarlet Knight will take on unseeded Tariq Wilson of North Carolina State in the consolation semifinals on Saturday,

Nick Suriano, a fourth-seed at 125 pounds, created some major history for the Scarlett Knights as he took a 2-0 decision win over top-seeded Darian Cruz (Lehigh) in the 125-pound semifinals. The victory put Suriano into the finals, which already makes him the best NCAA tournament finish in Rutgers program history. On the other side of the bracket, third-seeded Spencer Lee (Iowa) recorded a surprising pin over second-seeded Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State). If Suriano prevails over Lee on Saturday, he would be first-ever Scarlett Knight to earn an NCAA title.

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