By Emily J. Weitz
Adam Busiello, a ten-year-old from Sag Harbor, sounds like a little boy when you talk to him on the phone. He doesn’t sound like someone who could take you down and pin you on the floor with one quick move. But given his accomplishments — including a national championship two weeks ago — chances are he probably could.
Adam started wrestling when he was five, when his father brought him down to the KID wrestling program with Joe and Louis Russo in East Hampton. Within the first couple of weeks of wrestling, he amazed family and got the attention of coaches by placing second in a county tournament.
“He was in first grade, which is on the young side,” says Don Donnelly, one of Adam’s coaches at RaZor Wrestling Club in Commack. “Most kids are at a beginner level up through fourth grade, but Adam was at an advanced level from the onset.”
Since then, Adam has become a committed wrestler and has developed a winning style. In 2010, he became the New York State Champion in his age group, breezing through the Counties and the Sectionals with an air of ease.
“Adam is extremely strong for his age,” says Donnelly. “He can be in a compromising position where it looks like the opponent is going to score, but Adam ends up taking them down with his sheer strength.”
When he won the state tournament, which took place in Binghamton last year, “It was very exciting,” recalls his father, John Busiello. “After he won, he jumped into my arms. He won the match 6-0.”
This year, Adam will be looking to defend his title, first in the counties at the end of this month and then in the State Tournament, which takes place on March 6 at Bay Shore High School.
Adam has immersed himself in the wrestling world, and he’s found ample opportunities to compete. Two weeks ago, he won the MAWA (Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association) tournament in the 70-pound weight class. He was wrestling against “the three-time state champion of Alabama,” says Mr. Busiello. “Adam pinned him in the finals.”
He also recently took first place in the Northeast Nationals in York, Penn., where he competed against 20 to 30 kids from all over the country.
“These kinds of tournaments, the average or even very good wrestler doesn’t come,” explains Donnelly. “Only very elite wrestlers are there. Adam is one of the best.” Donnelly pauses, thinking for a moment. “Adam is probably the very best 10-year-old in this country.”
To live up to the demands of the wrestling schedule, the family is constantly on the road. They travel all over the country for tournaments, and even practice is a haul. With Adam’s older brother Johnny also a very skilled wrestler, “Our schedule revolves around wrestling,” says Mr. Busiello happily. “Adam and Johnny work out in Commack and do their homework in the car… we’ve been doing that for three-and-a-half years.”
Since stepping onto the mat, Adam has grown up a lot.
“He’s become a little man,” says his father. “He’s made friends all over the country, and he has a real network. We go to tournaments and they pick Adam out. He’s quite the mature little kid.”
The friends that he makes are Adam’s favorite part of wrestling. But he does love the sport itself.
“I love learning about one sport and focusing on what you can do and what not to do,” he says. “I play football for East Hampton. I play baseball for Sag Harbor. I got defensive player of the year in 2010 in football. But wrestling is my favorite by far.”
It’s a good thing, because it seems like the wrestling world can’t get enough of Adam. He was recruited by a middle school national team based in New Jersey called Team Strength. “At nine years old,” says his father, “Adam took third place in the nation against middle schoolers. The kids he was wrestling were 11 and 12.” Adam’s voice can be heard in the background. “One was 13,” he says.
When he grows up, Adam wants to be a coach. A wrestling coach.
“It’s our lives,” says Mr. Busiello. “It’s what we do. We enjoy it, live for the sport. We enjoy the comraderie that comes with it. I was a county champ and state runner up in 1979, and we keep it in the family.”