You can’t just pin down Syosset wrestler Vito Arujau as being one of the greatest in his sport in Long Island history, even though he enters his senior season with a 183-1 record, a Nassau-best 137-match winning streak and has won three consecutive state championships. He is thinking globally.
“I don’t want to settle for Long Island or New York State,” Arujau said. “I want to be compared to the greatest wrestlers of all time.”
Arujau, one of 13 Syosset athletes who on Tuesday signed their National Letters of Intent at a ceremony at the high school before family and school administrators, will attend national power Cornell. He said he could have gone to more traditional longtime wrestling schools such as Penn State, Oklahoma State or Iowa State, but chose the Ivy League for reasons beyond the mat.
“It comes down to wrestling not being the only thing in your life,” said Arujau, who wore a red Cornell baseball cap with a black brim along with his sports jacket and tie ensemble. “Cornell is the place where I can pursue wrestling and also pursue what I can do with my life after I’m done with wrestling.”
Arujau, who plans to be a sociology major at Cornell, already has had a chance to see the world thanks to his sport. It was a recent trip to the nation of Georgia, which borders Russia, when Arujau said, “I broadened my view as to what I can accomplish.”
In the Cadet World Championship event in September for international wrestlers 17-and-under, Arujau finished second. “It made me think I can be the best in my sport.”
He hopes to have a chance to fulfill another of his goals, to make the United States Olympic team for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. “My coach, Rob Koll, has international experience [and was an alternate for the 1992 Olympic team] and Cornell gives me a great advantage in wrestling and in life. It will give me the tools I need to be successful.”
Athletics and academics were also the reasons that several other Syosset players gave for making their college choice. “The balance between academics and a chance to win a national championship,” said Matt Benus of playing men’s lacrosse for Loyola (Md.), a team that reached the Final Four last spring.
“I love the city of Providence and the lacrosse program,” Katie Igneri said of signing to play women’s lacrosse for Brown. “And of course they have great academics.”
Nicole Concannon, whose brother Alex is on the men’s lacrosse team at Johns Hopkins, said of her choice to play the women’s game at Villanova, “The coaches already are like friends to me. This is a chance to bring lacrosse with me to college and gain opportunities once I graduate.”
Syosset athletic director Drew Cronin is so proud of the school’s cadre of college-bound athletes that after Tuesday’s fourth annual signing ceremony, he told them to “bring back banners from your schools and sign them for me to hang up in my office. Of course I’ll pay for them. And in a couple of years, I want my office to be filled up with banners.”