Kearny’s Bush poised for solid final wrestling go-round

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kearny senior wrestler Dave Bush is looking forward to a fine end to his wrestling career, one that he hopes takes him to the NJSIAA state championships in Atlantic City next month.


By Jim Hague

Dave Bush knows that it’s his final season of high school wrestling and the Kearny senior is ready to give it his all down the stretch.

That’s why Bush became more of a dedicated wrestler before this season, religiously attending the NJAC Wrestling Facility, owned and operated by former Kearny state champion Dave Cordoba, currently the head coach at St. Mary’s of Rutherford.
As soon as the high school baseball season came to an end, Bush put the bat and glove down and headed back to the wrestling room with Cordoba, the program’s all-time leader in victories with 141.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Bush said of Cordoba. “Right after baseball is over, I go right to wrestling. Even sometimes during the baseball season, I go train a bit, but that can be a little tough.”

But Bush had to make the necessary sacrifice to become a better wrestler.

“I felt like I had to do it,” Bush said. “I wasn’t too happy with the way my seasons have ended in the past.”

In each of the last three seasons, Bush made it to the finals of the NJSIAA District 16 tournament, only to lose in the finals.

“I knew I couldn’t do that again,” Bush said. “I knew I had to do something different. Enough is enough.”

So Bush was determined to become a better wrestler and that meant spending more time training.

“He has all the tools,” veteran Kearny head wrestling coach Tony Carratura said. “He just needed that something extra. He needed to get a little more determined. He works hard after practice, then hits the weight room and then goes to train. He knows that’s what it takes to take it to the next level. That extra work is needed, even though he plays other sports.

Added Carratura, “Dave is a very good baseball player. But to take it to the next level and to get to Atlantic City (in the state tournament), Dave had to put in the extra work. It’s all about what you put into it. Then that’s what you get out of it and that gets you to the next level. He’s put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s shown. It’s put him a step above what he was last year.”

Bush said that he could feel the improvement.

“I went to a lot of summer tournaments and that got me ready,” Bush said. “I felt better. I felt quicker. Since I lifted a lot, I felt stronger. I really felt good about myself.”
Bush was rolling along in fine fashion, holding fort at 160 pounds in the Kardinals’ lineup, when disaster struck a month ago.

“He rolled his knee and that kept him out for a couple of weeks,” Carratura said.

“It started to bother me in practice a little and then I realized it was sprained,” Bush said. “The doctors said I had to sit out for two weeks and that was horrible. I knew that no matter what, I was going to come back and be 100 percent. I worked too hard to have anything happen.”

Bush received medical treatment and did some rehabilitative exercise to get his knee back to full strength.

“It never crossed my mind that I was going to be out for the season,” Bush said. “I was going to wrestle no matter what. It was a little shock to the body to be out, but after a couple days, I got right back into it. I feel good now.”

Bush certainly is showing no signs of the knee injury. He currently has a stellar 23-1 record this season as the long-awaited District 16 tournament approaches next weekend.

Bush also reached an impressive milestone last week. In a match against Union, Bush won via a pin and in the process, collected the 100th win of his career, becoming only the seventh Kardinal wrestler to ever reach the impressive milestone.

“It’s a great honor to be with those guys,” said Bush of a list that includes Cordoba and current Kearny assistant coach Vin Abbott. “It’s actually amazing I’m with that group.”
Others include Jon DGravina, Angel Colon, Brian McDonnell and J.T. Nash.

For his efforts, Bush has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Bush is also acting as a leader for a very young Kardinal team that features an astounding 18 freshmen.

“They all look up to him and mimic what he does,” Carratura said. “Even some of the older guys watch what Dave does. They all look up to him. It’s a different Dave Bush these days. He’s stronger. He has experience. He’s more determined. His technique is better and he has more finesse. He has a good chance to win the Districts and the Regions and move on to Atlantic City.”

That’s another goal. After three close calls, Bush wants to make sure that his season ends in Atlantic City.

“It’s exciting and nerve wracking,” Bush said. “We’re getting down to it, but I’m ready. I think having the nerves help. Right now, I’m in good position to win the Districts and try to win the Regions to get to Atlantic City. That would be a great thing. I’ve always thought of it. It’s always been inside my head. I feel like I’m hitting my peak at the right time.”

And after three disappointments, Bush feels like he’s saving his best for last.

“It could definitely happen,” Bush said. “I can feel it.”


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