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Syosset's Vito Arujau wins first state wrestling title

Vito Arujau of Syosset smiles after his win

Vito Arujau of Syosset smiles after his win during the NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championship finals on March 1, 2014 at the Times Union Center in Albany. Credit: Pat Orr

ALBANY - Vito Arujau makes no bones about it. He's going to do whatever it takes to win four state wrestling championships. Then he went out and won his first crown in grand fashion.

The Syosset freshman used a second-period takedown and a third-period reversal for a 4-1 win over defending state champion Kyle Quinn of Wantagh to win the 106-pound state title Saturday night at Times Union Center. Arujau dictated the flow of the bout and never allowed Quinn a chance to score as he improved to 44-0 on the season.

The final was a rematch of the Nassau sectional final.

"He's the strongest opponent I've wrestled," said Arujau, who is 94-1 over the past two seasons, his only loss coming in last year's 99-pound state final. "Strength doesn't beat technique and I've been trained by my father -- who was an Olympian and knows everything about proper technique."

Arujau's brother Nick is one of three Nassau wrestlers to win three state crowns, from 2008 to 2010.

"My brother wants me to be better than him," Arujau said. "I just have to keep improving and keep working and it'll happen."

Syosset coach Mike Murtha believes Arujau can achieve all of his goals.

"He's a leader in our room and works as hard as anyone," Murtha said. "He gets better with every match. His conditioning is like no other and he's relentless in practice and in his matches."

Arujau was one of five Nassau champions crowned Saturday night. Long Beach eighth-grader Jacori Teemer (45-2) hit a neat ankle pick early in the third period and put Eastport's Adam Busiello to his back for the pin in 4:35 for the 99-pound state title. The lightning-quick move ended an electric opening bout to the tournament.

"He's slick for a young wrestler," Long Beach coach Ray Adams said. "He had an outstanding tournament."

Nassau crowned its third champ when Louis Hernandez of Mepham won his second straight state title with an 8-4 win over Anthony Deprez of Hilton at 152 pounds. Hernandez finished at 42-1.

MacArthur's Steven Schneider (49-1), who was a state runner-up a year ago at 160, put in a herculean effort to edge East Islip senior Erik Adon, 3-1, to claim the 170-pound crown. Schneider scored a first-period takedown on a low outside single and made that move hold up for the win.

Seaford's James O'Hagan (39-1) pinned Michael Manni of Tappan Zee in 2:33 at 285 pounds and set off a wild celebration. O'Hagan, the school's first ever state champ, sprinted to his corner and jumped into the arms of his coaches, who collapsed under the goliath's weight. The jubilant pile had the crowd in a roar.

There was disappointment in the finals, also.

MacArthur senior Justin Cooksey (46-6) pushed top-seeded Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam into triple overtime for the 138-pound title. But Lapi scored an escape and a penalty point in the third overtime for the 6-3 win. It was the second time in three years Cooksey finished as a state runner-up.

Plainview JFK freshman Peter Pappas (41-1) came from an unseeded position and met top-seeded and defending state champion Yianni Diakomihalis in the 106-pound final. Pappas battled late into the second period tied at 2 before Diakomihalis pulled away for an 11-2 win.

Pappas was the first JFK wrestler to reach the state final since 1979.

"I was psyched to reach the final and give it everything I had," the previously unbeaten Pappas said.

That's all a coach can ask for.

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