Line them up and take them down. That’s what two of Long Island’s most accomplished high school wrestlers needed to do last week at the Super 32 Challenge Battle for the Belt in Greensboro, North Carolina.
And for the first time in Long Island history, two locals battled their way through brackets of 154 competitors in their respective weight classes in the same year to bring home the coveted belt.
Syosset senior Vito Arujau, a three-time New York State champion, and Eastport-South Manor sophomore Adam Busiello, a two-time state titlist, earned the prestigious championships last weekend.
“It is the gauntlet of the who’s who in high school wrestling across the country,” said Mike Patrovich, a former Eastport-South Manor assistant coach, who trains Busiello. “It is a brutal and exhausting trek to win a title. These guys have to be in shape, mentally tough, and ready to go against guys they know nothing about.”
Arujau beat Mitch Moore of St. Paris Graham of Ohio, 11-4, to win the 132-pound weight class. The technician scored takedowns in each period for the win.
Busiello beat freshman Robert Howard of Bergen Catholic (N.J.), 5-2, to capture the 113-pound weight class. Busiello had a takedown in the first period and near fall in the second.
Both agreed that some of the charm of winning the Super 32 Challenge is meeting defending state champions from all over the United States and trusting their own skill set to come out on top.
“You don’t know these guys,” Busiello said. “You go out and use your skills and trust your instincts to beat them. You stay with your style and take them down.”
Busiello and Arujau both won seven straight bouts to stand atop the winner’s platform.
Arujau, who has a record 137 straight wins, heading into his senior year, is looking to become only the third wrestler in Long Island history to win four state titles. Jesse Jantzen of Shoreham-Wading River earned four state titles from 1997-2000 and Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville did it from 2012-2015.
“The Super 32 is a good barometer to see where I am in my training,” Arujau said. “I never took a break over the summer. I’m trying to continue to improve. I wanted to win this tournament very badly. I placed third last year and it was something I really strived for. It was a very satisfying achievement to win the belt.”
Arujau, who has committed to Cornell University, has his eyes on representing the United States at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He wore a Team USA singlet in the championship bout.
Busiello, who verbally committed to attend Penn State, is the number one ranked wrestler in the country at 113 pounds. He wore a Penn State singlet in his final.
“It’s a big deal bringing back the belt,” said Busiello, who is a two-time Super 32 winner. “You wrestle state champs anywhere from Florida to California. There are no easy bouts.”
Busiello is currently on track to capture five state titles, a feat only one wrestler in New York State history — Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks Valley High School in Binghamton — has ever accomplished.
Arujau and Busiello left the Greensboro Coliseum a little heavier wrapped in their coveted belts. They both swell with pride when talking about their Long Island coaches and workouts partners.
“My coaches are the best,” said Arujau, who has an astounding career record of 178-1. “I continue to learn and improve to reach my goals. There’s still work to do.”
Said Syosset coach Mike Murtha after Arujau won his third state crown, “He wants to be a Division I national champion in college and an Olympian. We’re seeing in Vito one of Long Island’s all-time greatest talents on the mat.”
The same can be said for Busiello.