ALBANY — A new standard has been set for Long Island wrestlers. Winning one state title is impressive. But it seems winning multiple titles is now the goal.
Long Island has become Strong Island in state competition. Long Beach senior Jacori Teemer capped his high school career with a Long Island record fifth Division I championship Saturday night at the Times Union Center. It is the new benchmark.
Teemer beat senior Matt Grippi of Fox Lane, 8-2, to capture the 152-pound title to close his fantastic high school career with a 202-5 record. The standing ovation that followed was well earned.
“I dreamed about this since the eighth grade,” said Teemer. “I set goals, stayed healthy and my coaches guided me along the way. This is such a great feeling, a feeling of relief. The pressure is to always be on your game, at your best and that’s not easy. There are expectations all the time and everyone wants to knock off the top guy.”
Teemer will take his boatload of hardware and a slick wrestling technique to Arizona State in the fall. He shared the Long Island record of four state titles with Shoreham-Wading River’s Jesse Jantzen and Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni.
They both went on to success at the next level. Teemer should also do very well. Jantzen earned a Division I NCAA title for Harvard in 2004 and Piccininni is currently ranked in the top 10 at Oklahoma State.
Teemer has learned through the years to deal with criticism. He had so much success at such a young age and he heard the whispers of doubt. “I matured over the years,” Teemer said. “I heard people thought I wasn’t putting in time and effort and I was getting away with natural ability. That wasn’t the case but there may have been times when I struggled with weight and that was hard because I was young.”
Long Beach coach Ray Adams laughs when he hears the critics. “We have one of the best wrestlers of all time and people will still find a knock,” he laughed. “Just celebrate the kid and all he’s accomplished. It does come natural to him. But he’s turned into a leader in our room, and in the community and our young wrestlers look up to him. He just makes it look easy.”
Teemer said he’s excited about Arizona State and his future.
As he departs the focus shifts to Long Island’s next big-time grappler — Adam Busiello. The Eastport-South Manor junior captured his fourth state title Saturday night. He did it with relative ease as it seems no one statewide can compete with the 17-year-old.
Busiello pinned Justin McDouglad of Niagara-Wheatfield in 2:39. He improved his career record to 251-8 and could be the first Long Island wrestler to reach 300 wins.
“Wrestling is a mindset,” said Busiello, who will wrestle at Penn State in 2020. “The guys that succeed at a high level put in the time traveling all year seeking out the best competition. You get out of it what you put into it. The Olympics is the pinnacle of wrestling but that’s every kid’s dream. But it’s one step at a time — one more year in high school to win a fifth state title and then on to Penn State.”
The careers of Teemer and Busiello nearly paralleled one another for the past five years. They were a given these past two years, making the winning look too easy.
“It’s not easy,” Busiello said. “We have to stay healthy, focused and sharp. Or it ends sadly. I’m honored to be mentioned with guys like Teemer, Jantzen and Piccininni.”
Busiello could be Suffolk’s first five-time state champ next year.
He wouldn’t commit to ‘would be’ a five-time champ yet.
“You have to respect the sport and the opponent,” he said. “Or you’ll get beat.”
Teemer said he’d be happy to welcome Busiello into his exclusive club next year.
“He’ll do it,” Teemer said. “He’s a great one.”