Vougar Oroudjov is not someone you want to mess with.
But his son, Nick Arujau, knows how to push his buttons. After committing to Hofstra at the beginning of the school year, the two-time defending state champion from Syosset got into a fight with his dad, giving him new perspective on life.
"We'll probably take different paths," said the 125-pound Arujau, whose name is spelled differently from his dad's because they went through immigration separately and both spoke little English when they came to America nine years ago. "My mom said I shouldn't be too close to him. I need to go far away and mature."
So Arujau made the difficult call to Pride coach Tom Shifflet, telling him he had changed his mind. He since has signed a full scholarship with American University in Washington, D.C., where he'll study international business.
Oroudjov, an assistant coach at Nassau CC who runs a kid wrestling club in Syosset, said the decision for Nick to go to Hofstra was his. But he realized that was a selfish choice because, unlike his father, Nick doesn't want to be a wrestling lifer.
"I want him to be his own man," Oroudjov said in a thick Russian accent. "He can make his future another way. When he leaves, I go to the next project ."
But Arujau, who was born in Gomel, Belarus, still has some unfinished business at Syosset. In addition to seeking his third state title - which would make him only the fifth Long Island wrestler to achieve that feat - Arujau has won 91 straight matches. Only Jesse Jantzen of Shoreham-Wading River (163) and Paul Liguori of Wantagh (122) have had longer winning streaks in Long Island wrestling history. Arujau, whose career record is 154-7, last lost in the 2007 state final.
"He's developed into one of the most dominant wrestlers I've seen," Syosset coach Mike Murtha said. "It's a matter of keeping him motivated. If you do the same thing over and over again, you can become unfocused."
That's where Vougar takes over. Go to any Syosset match and you'll see the diminutive Russian man (he wrestled at 48 kilograms, roughly 106 pounds) with a wicked case of cauliflower ear screaming in a language akin to Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV." But though Vougar never seems content with Nick's performances, he admits to a large sense of pride when he sees his son on the mat.
"I am happy just that he wrestled," he said. "Most other world champions' kids, nobody wrestled. They played soccer or tennis."
But Arujau has made his home on the mat. Last season, he didn't sacrifice a point at the state tournament. He used his trademark double bar arms to pin Uniondale's Mike Walker in the quarterfinals before taking down defending champion Jamie Franco of Monroe-Woodbury (Section IX), 4-0, to win the title.
Said American University coach Mark Cody: "He has great potential. His ability to wrestle in the top position is very hard to coach, and he's got very good mat skills."
But it was Vougar who gave Nick the ultimate compliment - at least in his book: "He's better than I was at his age."