When you say the words Boonton, Fajardo and wrestling in the same sentence, odds are you’ll think of Eric Fajardo, the former Bombers standout.
Anthony Fajardo wants to change all of that.
Wednesday night, he began making that change.
Fajardo pinned Irvington’s Nyreek Loyal in 5:19 in the Region 3 preliminaries at Union High School. The second-seeded Fajardo dominated on his feet and on top and rolled up a 12-0 lead before lowering the boom on Loyal.
Fajardo will face Johnson’s Kyle Gregorio in the region quarterfinals Friday night at 6.
It was a far cry for Fajardo compared to last year, when he was fourth at District 9 and didn’t qualify for the regions.
Turns out, that was a turning point for Fajardo, who immediately began training for this season with his older brother Eric, a two-time state fourth-place finisher for Boonton and now wrestling at Columbia University.
Eric Fajardo was one of the best wrestlers in Boonton history even though he was just a seasonal wrestler. Anthony put a lot of extra time in during the offseason because Eric regrets not having worked as hard as he could have in the summer as a Bomber.
“He coached me in the summer,” Anthony Fajardo said. “He learned from his mistake and what he learned he wanted to pass on to me. I started training for this season the day after last year ended for me. I wanted to make a name for myself. When you hear the name Fajardo, you think of him.”
The younger Fajardo has rolled up a 32-3 record and placed second in the district.
“His work ethic is phenomenal,” Boonton coach Dave Hughen said. “He is the hardest worker on the team. He is a junior captain, just the second since I have been at Boonton (Eric is the only other). He always put the extra time in.”
Fajardo used his strong technique in advancing last night.
“He didn’t rush and he was patient with his technique against a strong kid,” Hughen said. “He was good with his shots and he was strong on top.”
“I didn’t want to change anything from what I have been doing all year,” Fajardo said. “I didn’t want to change my game plan.”
In one of the night’s tightest battles at Region 3, Madison’s Dom Luppino came back from an rearly deficit to beat Morrristown’s Jamison Wendel, 6-2.
Wendel had beaten Luppino earlier in the year, 6-4. Wendel got the better of Luppino in the first two periods. After a scoreless first, Wendel reversed Luppino, who escaped late in the period.
In the third period, Luppino escaped again and, after a scramble, took Wendel down. Wendel tried reversing Luppino but couldn’t. Luppino finished the match by putting Wendel to his back for two backs.
“Never stop, you need to go on,” Luppino said. “You just have to do what you’ve got to do. I guess I just pushed a little bit harder at the end. This is it, if you lose, it’s over.”