The collision course was set months ago when Rocky Point senior Anthony Cirillo announced he would wrestle at 120 pounds in the Suffolk tournament.
The decision to move into the 120-pound bracket set up a potential showdown with two-time defending state champion Adam Busiello of Eastport-South Manor, who has already verbally committed to wrestle at Penn State. The anticipation of such a bout grew through the weekend as both wrestlers earned a spot in the 120-pound title Sunday night at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood.
“No one takes on the champ, they all run,” said Cirillo, who placed third and fifth in the state tournament and is committed to wrestle at the University of Maryland. “Everyone counted me out. I knew I had a chance against a great wrestler and I wanted to take that shot.”
The bout drew the packed house of 3,600 from its seats more than once as the two scrambled to score points. Cirillo used a five-point cutback move and built an 8-1 third-period lead against Busiello, the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 113 pounds who moved up into the 120-pound bracket.
Busiello battled back to 8-5 and countered a Cirillo move with a well-timed Granby roll to put the Rocky Point challenger to his back for the wild pin in 4:53. It was Busiello’s third Suffolk crown and improved his career record to 191-8.
“He came out and won a few scrambles and built a big lead,” said Busiello, whose right knee was heavily wrapped in ice. “I respect that he wanted to beat me. It says a lot about him as a person. But I kept my composure and thought I was mentally tough in that third period and never doubted myself.”
Cirillo, sitting alone after the bout, said he was proud of his effort and the decision to take on Busiello. Both wrestlers qualified for the state tournament Feb. 24 and 25 at the Times Union Center in Albany.
“I had a bar arm in and got a little ahead of myself and tried to jump over and put him to his back,” said Cirillo, who has a 182-24 career record. “He’s slick. He countered my move by stepping out and turning in and put me on my back. It was all about the timing. I know everyone knew I belonged on the mat with him. I hope we meet in the state final.”
“It was a pair of warriors going at it,” said Rocky Point coach Darren Goldstein. “It’s an example of Suffolk wrestling being so deep.”
Half Hollow Hills West junior Dylan Ryder (37-1) avenged his only loss of the season when he beat Eastport-South Manor freshman Zachary Redding, 3-0, to win the 106-pound weight class. Ryder, the defending Suffolk champion who lost in the state final last year, got a quick takedown off a scramble for the 2-0 first-period lead.
Redding edged Ryder in the Eastern States final earlier this year, 6-5.
Defending state champion Terron Robinson of Whitman also avenged his only loss this season with a stirring 8-5 win over Glenn’s Damien Caffrey. The senior had lost to Caffrey, 7-6, in the Eastern States final.
On Sunday night, Robinson used two late takedowns to outlast Caffrey in an entertaining final.
North Babylon crowned two Suffolk champs for the first time in the same year in school history. Junior Anthony Sobotker beat AJ Rodriguez of Islip, 6-2, to win the 145-pound weight class and junior David Miele-Estrella edged Max Sims of Lindenhurst, 1-0, to capture the 152-pound title.
In a wild 195-pound final, Kings Park’s undefeated senior Sam Schuyler rallied for a 10-6 win over Islip’s Greg Hodulick. Trailing 6-5 with 23 seconds left, Schuyler took Hodulick down on the edge of the circle and then as Hodulick scrambled to get away, Schuyler sealed the win with three back points as time expired.
Rocky Point, which finished second in the team scoring two years in a row, won the school’s first team championship with 142.5 points. Hauppauge finished second with 126.5 points and Eastport-South Manor was third with 119.5.