ALBANY — Adam Busiello knew who he wanted to face in the historic state Division I wrestling championship at 138 pounds on Saturday night at the Times Union Center.
The Eastport-South Manor senior and top seed got his wish and capitalized, pinning second-seeded Willie McDougald of Niagara Falls in 3:28 to become the first Suffolk wrestler to win five titles. This was his state-record sixth state title berth, and he's won five in a row.
“I wanted to wrestle McDougald,” Busiello said. “I want to wrestle the big matches.”
“You think about the magnitude of this stage and what he’s done over the last six years, it’s absolutely incredible,” ESM coach Nick Garone said. “And then to cap it off with a pin, it was just so fitting. It was fitting that he ended his career with a pin against a really solid guy.”
After a slow first period in which Busiello attempted to score but was denied by McDougald, Busiello went to work. He earned an escape eight seconds into the second period for one point, then got McDougald on his back 18 seconds later for the pin.
In the state semifinal, Busiello pinned unseeded Ryan Meisner of Lindenhurst in 1:34.
“When I do get someone on their back, I want them to know that I’m going to pin them,” said Busiello, who finished his six-year career with a record of 280-8. He went 50-0 this season and has won 111 straight matches.
Busiello appeared in the state finals at 99 pounds as a seventh grader and lost but closed his dominant run with five consecutive titles.
“Once he has a chance to work on you on top, it’s pretty hard to stop,” Garone said. “When he gets guys on their backs, they do not get off their backs.”
A decorated resume will be what Busiello is remembered for, but he said he will always remember the joy he got out of wrestling. He called fun “a big part of my success.”
“I would’ve liked the match to last longer,” Busiello said, “and I would’ve had fun doing it.”
Busiello wasn’t the only Suffolk representative to have his arm raised in the center of the mat.
Hauppauge’s Dan Mauriello became the first wrestler in state history to win a championship after four overtime matches in the state tournament, according to Newsday records.
The junior, seeded sixth, escaped for the winning point in an ultimate tiebreaker to earn a 3-2 decision over top-seeded Warren McDougald of Niagara Wheatfield at 152 pounds.
“I feel great,” said Mauriello, who bent over to catch his breath but smiled through the exhaustion. “I feel better than ever. Even my county final was overtime, so now it’s five in a row.”
Mauriello, who finished 43-2 this season, said the moment was even better than he imagined. He just had to remain patient and power through overtime after overtime.
“I just keep my cool, and I don’t let anything get to me,” Mauriello said. “And I win.”
Commack’s Joey Slackman, the top seed, earned a 4-2 decision over unseeded Myles Norris of Freeport in the 285-pound final. He earned a first-period takedown then tacked on two escapes for a 4-0 lead.
Slackman was the state’s runner up last season.
"Winning a state championship is everything to me," Slackman said. "To finally win, I have no words."
Fourth-seeded Sean Carter of North Babylon advanced to the state final at 120 pounds by earning a 3-2 win in an ultimate tiebreaker over top-seeded Jayden Scott of Rush Henrietta in the semifinals. But he fell to No. 2 Jimmy Ryan of Monsignor Farrell in the state final, 3-0.
At 145 pounds, top-seeded Jonathan Spadafora of Half Hollow Hills East lost to second-seeded AJ Kovacs of Iona Prep, 3-2. Unseeded Joe Gannone of ESM, who defeated Nos. 7, 2 and 6, respectively, to advance to the state final, was pinned by top-seeded Aaron Wolk of Horace Greeley in 59 seconds in the title match.
“I came in here as an unseeded wrestler and figured I had nothing to lose,” Gannone said. “Coming up here and getting to finals, I couldn’t be more satisfied.”
Westhampton’s Liam McIntyre, the No. 6 seed, earned a third-period takedown but it was not enough. The senior lost in the 195-pound state final to top-seeded Sam Deprez of Hilton, 4-2.