ALBANY - An Olympic bronze medal it's not. But the gold medallion in the shape of New York awarded to the state public school champ, the third of his illustrious career, was plenty fulfilling for Syosset's Nick Arujau.
"I'll take what I can get," said the son of Olympic bronze medalist and two-time freestyle World Champion Vougar Oroudjov from the former Soviet Union. "My dad's life was different from mine. He wanted a wrestling life."
The American University-bound 125-pounder held three fingers up on each hand then kissed both and raised them to the sky after he won his third straight state title, 7-5, over Justis Flamio of Mahopac (Section I), last night at the Times Union Center.
In doing so, he passed 2009 Wantagh grad Paul Liguori, a close friend of his, for the most consecutive wins in Nassau history with 123. Arujau, who finished the season 38-0 with 28 pins, hasn't lost since the 2007 state final when he was a freshman. He was the only Nassau champion last night.
Arujau also became the third Nassau wrestler to win three state titles, joining Bob Bury of Calhoun and Al Palacio of Long Beach, the uncle of the fourth-place finisher at 140 pounds Dylan Palacio. Syosset coach Mike Murtha believes Arujau isn't finished developing.
"He still hasn't reached his full potential," the coach said of his prized pupil. "He's untapped yet. I'm very proud of what he's accomplished here. He's got great genes."
Sure his dad may have taught him the leg ride with a crossface that put Flamio to his back and gave Arujau a 4-0 first-period lead. But the important lessons he absorbed from living in the same house as a champion, was the determination to hold on after Flamio closed the lead to one late in the third period.
"I was tired," Arujau said. "Up 4-0, I'm thinking it's impossible for him to come back. At the end, I was just using my head, and my strategies."
And he was rewarded with a shiny medal for his family's ever-growing trophy case.
Rodriguez earns second straight title. Central Islip's Andy Rodriguez let out a howl as he won his second straight state title with a 3-2 triple-overtime win over Tony Carlo of Farrell (Staten Island) in the 145-pound final. It was Rodriguez's third consecutive 3-2 win of the weekend.
Both wrestlers escaped in their 30-second period of the second overtime and Rodriguez rode Carlo out in the third OT to finish the season 35-0.