Kearny’s Fadeski becomes school’s first District wrestling champ since 2012

As his team was preparing to participate in the NJSIAA District 11 wrestling championships last week, Kearny head wrestling coach Tony Carratura, Jr. was enjoying the practice time with his team, trying his best to motivate the Kardinals before the big tourney.

“It’s funny, but all week long, I was having a good time with Paul Fadeski, saying to him, ‘Paul Fadeski is going to shock the world and be a District champ.’ I kept saying it to him over and over.”

Carratura saying that Fadeski, the team’s heavyweight, could actually win the District crown would be just a little bit of a stretch.

You see, Fadeski owned a non-descript record of 9-22 going into the District 11 tourney. He was 6-14 last year. It meant that Fadeski had a career mark of 15 wins and 36 losses before heading to Morristown High School over the weekend and facing off against 10 top-flight wrestling programs.

But Carratura was doing his best to motivate his wrestler.

“I was telling him that he wrestled some really tough kids this year,” Carratura said. “His record didn’t show how good of a wrestler he could be.”

Fadeski was a late bloomer to the sport.

“I wrestled as a freshman, after the older Tony Carratura (the late father of the current coach and former head coach at Kearny) kept saying to me, ‘You gotta wrestle, you gotta wrestle’ over and over,” Fadeski said. “I did it for two weeks. Then I quit because I thought it was too hard for me. I ended up saying to the older Carratura that I just couldn’t do it.”
Fadeski was always a member of the Kearny football program
since grammar school and continued playing football through his high school days. He only returned to the mat last year as a junior, but was lacking the experience needed to be a top-flight heavyweight, thus the lopsided loss record.

But to his credit, Fadeski remained true to the sport and competed on the mat for the Kardinals last year and then again this season.

The younger Carratura took over the head wrestling coaching responsibilities after the death of his father and kept pumping the idea into Fadeski’s head that he could be a good wrestler.

“He has been saying to me all year that my record doesn’t matter,” Fadeski said. “Coach Tony’s been saying that at the end of the day, it’s all about who wants it more.”

So the message of being a District champ played in Fadeski’s brain as he took the mat in Morristown.

“He kept saying it to me over and over and I believed it,” Fadeski said. “I said, ‘Why not?’ I just had to go for it.”

Carratura always has one quick message before Fadeski wrestles.

“He always says, ‘Let’s go,’” Fadeski said. “Before I get on the mat, he says ‘Let’s go.’ I had a good hard week of practice to get ready, so I just had to push as hard as I could. Let’s go.”

Fadeski said that he has a stringent workout routine after the regular practices.

“I like to run on Schuyler Avenue,” Fadeski said. “I go up and down Schuyler for about two miles. I then stop along the way and do push-ups and sit-ups.”

Imagine that. Here’s a kid running on the sidewalk on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Kearny and he just randomly stops on the street to do calisthenics mid-stride.

“People look at me and think I’m crazy,” Fadeski said. “But it’s part of my routine.”
And that regimen carried Fadeski into the District 10 tourney.

“I think it was more of a ‘Why not?’ mindset,” Fadeski said. “That was my whole motto. I didn’t have a successful football season, so here’s my senior year and my last chance to leave my mark in high school. Why can’t I be a District champ?”

Fadeski won his first two matches via pins, the first one in the second period and the second one, in the semifinals, against second seed Domenick Castellano of Morris Catholic, pinning Castellano in 2:55.

It put Fadeski in the finals against Kevin Ramos of West Morris, a wrestler who had about a 30-pound weight advantage over the 235-pound Fadeski.

“He stormed the mat after winning the first two matches,” Carratura said. “It opened the door for him to go to the finals.”

Fadeski was the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, despite his 9-22 record. But facing all the tougher competition all season helped Fadeski in his moment of glory.

Trailing 3-2, Fadeski shot a double-leg takedown against his opponent to get the two points necessary to secure a 4-3 victory.

“I popped his arms and got the two points,” Fadeski said, nailing a move that is so totally uncharacteristic for heavyweights to achieve. “Everyone was jumping up and down. It felt so good to be a District champ.”

“He was shooting and attacking,” Carratura said. “He was being aggressive. Going in, we didn’t know what to expect, because he was wrestling against kids he never wrestled before. But he was going for it.”

You know, let’s go _ all the way to a District title.

“He’ll always be my first District champion,” Carratura said. “It was nice to see.”

And with the win, Fadeski, the unlikeliest of all, became Kearny’s first District wrestling champion since Dave Bush captured the 160-pound District 16 gold medal in 2012.

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

By virtue of winning the district championship, Fadeski moves on to the Region 3 tourney this week in West Orange, but he earns a bye to the quarterfinal round Friday night. Others that are not champions have to compete in the preliminary rounds on Wednesday night.

After Fadeski won and received his gold medal, he somehow misplaced it.

“He didn’t know where his medal was,” Carratura said. “I don’t think he understood how big this really was.”

Fadeski found his medal and he knows know how huge of a story this has become, a kid with a losing mark somehow wins a District title.

“Now, he’s just coasting,” Carratura said. “I hope he has a little more confidence now.”
Fadeski plans on enlisting in the United States Navy upon graduation from Kearny High School this June. He wants to become a communications specialist in the Navy.

One thing is for sure: Fadeski has definitely left his mark. Win or lose this week at Region 3, everyone will remember his achievements at District 11.

“Coach Tony was right,” Fadeski said. “I shocked the world. I have to give props to my coaches, who helped me and my teammates who supported me. They all believed in me.”

“He’s such a good kid,” Carratura said. “Everyone loves him. I’m so happy for him.”

Fadeski is the lone champion from Kearny, but the Kardinals, who finished fifth as a team, will send seven wrestlers to Region 3.

Jacob Baeza (third at 113 pounds), Arthur Smith (third at 145 pounds), Sebastian Rey (third at 152 pounds), Travis Witt (third at 160 pounds) and Andrew Mauricio (third at 220 pounds) all won their consolation bouts to advance to Wednesday’s Region 3 prelims. Steven Silva (120 pounds) finished fourth, but could get a chance to advance if a wrestler who had to forfeit due to injury default cannot compete.

Vin Ruccatano (126 pounds), Christian Lopez (170) and Noah Ramadan (182) just missed advancing after falling in the consolation round.

All in all, it was a great tourney for the Kardinals in Carratura, Jr.’s first-ever District tourney as head coach, capped by Fadeski’s gold medal. Let’s go.


Kearny senior heavyweight wrestler Paul Fadeski, the 2018 NJSIAA District 11 champion. Photo by Jim Hague

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”