The text message washed over Eastport-South Manor coach Nick Garone in a way that left him speechless. Garone called the message one for the ages — from a wrestler for the ages.
The text came from Eastport-South Manor senior Adam Busiello before the start of this weekend’s state wrestling tournament in the Times-Union Center. And it left Garone breathless.
“We’ve spent the better part of six years together, laughing, sweating, bleeding, crying,” Garone said. “And he’s like a son to me. He wanted me to know how important our relationship was to him. And it hit me, that this was the last dance. It was so emotional, man. It took me a while to wrap my head around it.”
Busiello set the new standard for excellence when he pinned defending state champion Willie McDougald of Niagara Falls to capture his fifth state championship, this one at 138 pounds, before more than 5,000 fans in the Times-Union Center. He became the third wrestler in state history to win five state crowns. Jacori Teemer (2014-2018) of Long Beach and Troy Nickerson (2001-2005) of Chenango Forks also earned five titles.
“It seems like he just jumped into my arms as a seventh grader when he beat the top seed in the state semifinals six years ago,” Garone said. “Six years goes fast. This last title was the culmination of a fabulous career and we’ll savor this for a long time.”
After a scoreless first period, Busiello earned an escape six seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead. He countered a takedown attempt by McDougald with his own double leg takedown for a 3-0 lead.
Busiello then overpowered the Niagara Falls junior and put him to his back for the pin in 3:29 igniting the capacity crowd and earning a standing ovation as he stood with five fingers held high. After his hand was raised, Busiello celebrated with Eastport-South Manor assistant coach Ryan Patrovich, his personal workout partner, and the emotional Garone.
It was a phenomenal run for the Arizona State commit, who pinned his way through the sectional and state tournaments.
Busiello became the first wrestler in state history to advance to the state finals for a sixth time when he pinned Lindenhurst junior Ryan Meisner in 1:34 in the semifinal round Saturday morning. The win put the four-time defending state champion and six-time finalist on the cusp of a monumental achievement — a fifth state crown never accomplished before by a Suffolk wrestler.
“I’ve seen him wrestle for six years at a high level,” Garone said. “But he’s wrestling at a completely different level than the competition right now. He’s an unbelievable talent, someone we have to sit back and enjoy — because we may not see another one like him in our lifetime.”
Busiello ran roughshod through the state tournament, pinning all three state opponents in the first period, setting up an epic showdown of defending state titlists with McDougald.
Busiello carried a 110-match win streak into the final. Over the past four state championship years, he won 191 of 192 bouts and compiled a career record of 280-8.
“The ultimate goal was right in front of me — to win a fifth state title,” said Busiello, who won also won five Suffolk sectional titles. “I’ve embraced the work ethic and really dedicated and focused myself on my skill set to continue to improve. I’ve been comfortable in the 138-pound weight class.”
Busiello made a fantastic name for himself through the years. He captured the highly-regarded Super 32 tournament six years in a row, winning three titles in high school and three more in junior high in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He served notice on the wrestling world at 13 years old, winning 45 bouts as a seventh-grader. He lost that season in the 99-pound state final to Teemer.
“His confidence and ability to deal with any situation with composure is a key to his success,” Garone said. “He lost that state final as a seventh grader and was working out the next day. He’s a different breed. He has a perfect balance between his composure and tenacity. .”
With another state championship Busiello cemented his place in Long Island wrestling lore. Suffolk’s first five-time state champion will be celebrated in the same breath as Suffolk’s most decorated wrestlers, Jesse Jantzen of Shoreham-Wading River and Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville, each of whom captured four state titles and went on to successful collegiate careers. Jantzen won an NCAA Division I title for Harvard in 2004 and Piccininni is currently a redshirt junior All-American at Oklahoma State and considered a contender for a national title.
Busiello joined the conversation as to who is Suffolk’s all-time greatest wrestler Saturday night. He will also be widely considered the most successful wrestler in New York State history with the likes of Teemer, Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks and Yianna Diakomihalis of Hilton won four state titles.
“It’s so satisfying and it’s been a great run,” Busiello said. “I feel like I’m complete now. It’s time to move on and prove it at the college level. I’m ready for what’s next.”