Kearny wrestler Silva an undefeated man of many talents

It’s one thing that Steven Silva is an undefeated 113-pounder on the Kearny High School wrestling team. That’s amazing in its own right.

But Silva has another relatively unknown talent. He is a worldwide ranked competitor in the Spartan Racing, a series of events that tests an athlete’s strength and endurance.

“It’s a bunch of obstacle course racing,” Silva explains. “You have to run up a hill carrying a bucket of rocks or lifting a bag of sand. You have to carry a giant log up and down a hill. There’s some swimming and spear throwing. You have to climb up, down and over nets.”

And sometimes, the running events are held in the mud, which makes things just a little messy.

Silva and his older brother Michael are avid competitors in Spartan Racing. In fact, the younger Silva was once ranked eighth in the world in the 14-to-17 age bracket.

“We travel all across the country competing,” said Silva, whose brother is 10 years older. “It’s fun. I like it a lot. It’s something outside of high school sports that I can do.”

Silva will continue his Spartan Racing tour come spring, but for now, the Kearny senior is concentrating on wrestling. And he’s doing a fine job at that, winning all 19 of his matches so far this season, including three wins last Saturday.

“It feels great,” Silva said of his unblemished record. “It shows that my hard work is beginning to pay off. I feel like I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I think the strength and experience helps a lot.”

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

Silva said that he started wrestling in seventh grade.

“At the time, I was trying to figure out what sport I liked the most,” Silva said. “I played a little bit of soccer and baseball. But I wasn’t the biggest guy. I realized I could be shorter and compete at a certain weight class. That helped me out.”

Silva admits that he wasn’t a polished wrestler in the early going.

“The first year, it wasn’t too good,” Silva said. “It took a little while to know the sport.”

Silva began to wrestle for Kearny Recreation, which at the time was coached by current Kearny High head coach Tony Carratura, Jr.

Silva also received the assistance of a local wrestling legend. David Cordoba, the only Kearny High School wrestler to ever capture an NJSIAA state championship in 1999, has a wrestling school and club that he runs. Silva started attending regular sessions with Cordoba.

“Dave helped me a lot,” Silva said. “I knew that he won a state title and I wanted to be the second one to do it. It really helped me a lot.”

Silva continued to develop and learn the sport with the help of Carratura, Jr. and Cordoba.

Last season, Silva wrestled against heavier competition for most of the season, but still managed to collect more than 20 victories and a fourth place finish at the NJSIAA District 11 tournament.

Because of an injury, Silva was awarded a berth in the Region 4 tournament, but was eliminated.

“I caught the flu that week, so I knew I was in trouble right away,” Silva said. “I was motivated by that, because I really wanted to get to the states (in Atlantic City).”

Silva said that he trained religiously at Cordoba’s facility and entered a handful of tournaments during the offseason to get ready for this year.

“I think it helps that I have more experience than most of the guys I face,” Silva said.

Carratura, Jr. believed that Silva was poised to enjoy a breakout season.

“I really expected this from him,” Carratura, Jr. said of Silva’s impressive ledger. “I knew that he’s at a good weight now and has all the tools. He has the technique and the confidence. I think he knows where to be, especially when he’s on top. He’s better than anyone on top. He has been racking up technical falls in the first period. He’s just at the top of his game right now. He controls the mat and you are not going to find many wrestlers stronger than him.”

Carratura, Jr. likes Silva’s physical ability.

“His endurance is pretty good,” Carratura, Jr. said. “I think the Spartan races have really helped him as a wrestler, because his motor just keeps going. I always encourage our wrestlers to compete in other sports. His are just a little different. He’s able to keep fit under those tough conditions.”

Silva is not the only Kardinal wrestler who owns a 19-0 record this late in the season. The Kardinals’ 120-pounder Jacob Baeza is also unbeaten with the same mark as his drilling practice partner.

“They’re constantly pushing each other,” Carratura, Jr. said. “It’s great to watch.”

Carratura, Jr. also likes Silva’s personality.

“It’s tough to keep him quiet,” Carratura, Jr. said. “He’s always talking. He’s a good kid, a good student and a lot of fun to coach. He’s just an all-around good kid.”

Silva has applied to a few colleges, but has not made a final decision about school. He doesn’t know yet whether he will try to wrestle in college.

“It’s something I think about,” Silva said. “But I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.”

Maybe a solid end to the wrestling season will alter Silva’s ways of thinking. Or maybe a few strong performances on the Spartan Games circuit will come into play. Silva is an excellent student, so academics will more than likely play a part in his decision.

For now, Silva has one goal in mind – competing with the rest of New Jersey’s best at the NJSIAA wrestling championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City next month.




Kearny senior 113-pound wrestler Steven Silva. 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.”