ALBANY — The Vito Arujau era came to an end Saturday night at the Times Union Center. He left us with a lasting memory, his four fingers extended from his right hand to show his four state titles. His shoes left in the middle of the mat signifying the end of his high school career.
Arujau left little doubt as to who was the best wrestler in the 138-pound weight class. The Syosset senior rolled through the bracket with two quick pins and a major decision before punctuating his career with an 8-3 win over Hauppauge’s Jake Silverstein before a crowd of more than 6,000.
He capped one of the most celebrated high school wrestling careers in Long Island history by becoming the second Nassau wrestler to win four state championships.
The wrestling community was fortunate to watch him grow for five years from a junior high phenom to an untouchable senior. The accomplishments were many.
Arujau finished with a Long Island record 174 consecutive victories and a 216-1 career mark. He won 24 tournament titles, including a Nassau record five county crowns.
His last loss came as an eighth-grader in the state final in 2013. He was edged in the ultimate tiebreaker, the third overtime, by Hilton’s Yanni Diakomihalis, a four-time state champion who finished his career with a 256-3 record and a state record 201 wins in a row. They never wrestled each other again.
Coincidentally, the great ones, Arujau and Diakomihalis, will both wrestle for Cornell next year.
The superlatives flow easily when describing Arujau. He’s as good in the classroom as he is on the mat. But what should define him is the way he went about his business and the way he took care of it.
Arujau was rough on the mat and showed no mercy to opponents.
“I come out to wrestle,” he said. “If my opponent doesn’t want to mix it up, I’ll go harder on him. I have no regrets when I step off the mat. I left my shoes because now I start a new chapter in my wrestling career.”
Perhaps the hardest thing for Arujau should have been overcoming the pressure that comes from a family that has won at all levels of the sport.
His father, Vougar Orugau, was an Olympic bronze medalist in 1992 and a two-time world champion in 1991 and 1993. His brother, Nick Arujau, won three state titles at Syosset between 2008-2010.
“Sometimes that success works in reverse and puts so much pressure on a sibling they can’t live up to it,” said Eastport-South Manor coach Nick Garone. “Vito has gone against conventional wisdom and been second to none in his family or with his peers. His pedigree is phenomenal and he learned that work ethic from family.”
While Arujau’s high school days came to an end, two younger wrestlers continued their assault on the Long Island record books and the state competition.
Eastport-South Manor sophomore Adam Busiello captured his third state title with a pin in 2:53 over Rocky Point senior Anthony Cirillo to win the 120-pound weight class.
“I came in better prepared and focused on my offense,” Busiello said.
The All-Long Island final was a rematch of an exciting Suffolk final in which Cirillo jumped to an 8-1 lead before Busiello turned him for a pin in 4:53 to win the crown.
“He has two more years left to wrestle,” Garone said. “A five-time state champ sounds wonderful.”
Long Beach junior Jacori Teemer was the first Nassau wrestler to win four state titles. He did it exactly eight minutes earlier than Arujau, winning the 132-pound crown Saturday night with a 1-0 win over Mike Venosa of Victor. Teemer could be the first Long Island wrestler to win five state titles next year.
That’s a lot of winning.