When Eastport-South Manor's Adam Busiello reached his first state wrestling final as a seventh-grader in 2014, there had only been one Long Island wrestler to win four state titles.
Busiello won his fourth title last season to enter the club (which also includes Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen) and will look to join Teemer this season as the only two to win five state titles and close out a golden era of Long Island wrestling.
“Being a part of that group is what I worked for every day since seventh grade,” Busiello said. “I’ve always tried to take it one day at a time and finally here we are. It’s my senior year and it’s hard not to hear things but I try to block it out. Once I get through this final season we can really start talking about things like that.”
Busiello finished 46-0 as he won the 126-pound crown last season. He now sits at 251-8 in five years as a varsity wrestler.
“I don’t think I realized how special this time was as a kid,” he said. “In seventh grade I had no idea what was going on and just wrestled every match and whatever happened, happened. I knew a lot of us were good but I didn’t think it was anything close to what it ended up being.”
Busiello will join Teemer next season at Arizona State, a program that has churned out national champions and combat sport pros.
“You have kids on the youth level with accolades but sometimes it doesn’t pan out as they get older,” Eastport-South Manor coach Nick Garone said. “As I saw these guys at tournaments and maturing you knew they were going to be special.”
Garone believes he also has a special group in his wrestling room on eastern Long Island.
Junior Zach Redding earned a wild-card berth to the state tournament after falling to Rocky Point’s Anthony Sciotto in the Suffolk final and avenged that loss in Albany for the state crown at 120. Senior Christian Gannone won a Suffolk title at 99 pounds as a sophomore and his twin brother, Joe, finished third at 152. Ryan Huff finished sixth at 182 to round out the talented and experienced group.
“When I first took over this program we didn’t have anybody on the wall,” Garone said. “We had to get that first state champ. Now all these kids really believe it’s possible to come out of ESM and win major titles. Before you do that, it’s very tough to convince some of the younger guys that they can do it. When they see it they believe it.”
And with the recent success of Long Islanders on the state and national level, there is plenty of belief.
“The depth of Long Island wrestling and having such a larger pool of athletes than in the past has made a big difference for today’s guys,” Garone said. “The competition is great — a lot of years if all of the six placers at any given weight class could get out of the county they could get on the stand easily at states.”