ATLANTIC CITY, NJThe dust has settled for the 2018 NJSIAA individual state wrestling tournament, and two of South Plainfield High School’s own earned top spots on their respective podiums.
Joe Heilmann worked his way to the finals of the 126-pound bracket and took home a second place medal which is South Plainfield’s best individual state tournament finish in five years. In the 195-pound bracket, junior Luke Niemeyer battled through the consolation rounds to take the fifth place spot in his weight classes’ podium.
Heilmann, the second-seed at 126 pounds, used dominant wins over third-seeded Mike Kelly of St. Peter’s Prep, Nicky Cabanillas of DePaul, Al Desantis of Shore Regional and Garrett Stewart of Sparta to earn a place in Sunday’s championship match.
The final match at 126-pounds pitted Heilmann against the most highly regarded grappler in the state, and the top 126-pound wrestler in the country, in top-seeded Pat Glory. Glory, a Delbarton wrestler and Princeton comitt, entered the match as the P4P top wrestler in the state according to NJ.com, and as the top-ranked 126-pounder in the country according to Flowrestling.
En-route to earning the 120-pound individual title last year, Glory handed Heilmann a tech fall defeat in the semifinals. The loss was Heilmann’s second setback off the season. This time around, both grapplers entered their bout with undefeated records. The South Plainfield product was able to show some of the improvements he made over the year in this Sunday's final, but the end result proved to be the same. Takedowns and a crushing top control game gave Glory a 7-0 shutout over Heilmann.
Heilmann, a University of North Carolina commit, ended his career by picking up South Plainfield’s highest individual tournament finish since the 2013 “Murderer’s Row” squad pushed four wrestlers into the final. The second place finish makes Heilmann a three-time state placewinner.
Niemeyer, a sixth-seed at 195-pounds, recovered from a quarterfinal set back to pick up consolation round wins over Caldwell’s Kyle Schaffer, and Delsea’s Tommy Maxwell to earn a spot in the consolation semifinal against Robert Gennat of Sparta.
Gennat took a 7-3 win over Niemeyer, which knocked the South Plainfield standout to the fifth-place bout . A medical forfeit against Jake Brown of Pope John XXIII handed Niemeyer the fifth place spot and his first state tournament medal.
South Plainfield entered six wrestlers into the tournament.