Success has been consistent this season for the wrestling team at California Baptist University and Joseph ‘Uncle Joe’ Fagiano, graduate student and heavyweight wrestler, has also been consistent in all his matches this season.
A Chicago native, Fagiano has a long-standing wrestling career that started at the age of 6, and although he put the sport behind him for four years before returning to the mat at CBU, he has continued to impress crowds and competitors.
On paper, Fagiano’s records will show a high school state champion and NCAA Division I qualifier from Indiana University with a winning 22-16 record as a true freshman and a NCAA qualifier at Hofstra University, but “Uncle Joe’s” performance on the mat extends beyond that.
Harlan Kistler, junior criminal justice major and heavyweight wrestler, said he considers Fagiano a mentor.
“He’s a teammate with a lot more experience both on the mat and in real life,” Kistler said. “He definitely shares his knowledge and mentors a lot of us on and off the mat.”
Fagiano, one of the top Division II wrestlers in the nation, holds an individual 13-5 winning record on the season and has helped lead the team to success in each match. Lennie Zalesky, head coach of the wrestling team, said Fagiano has played a major role in the team’s success. At the Cliff Keen Tournament Dec. 5, Fagiano placed sixth, making him the second wrestler to do so in program history.
“He knows what he’s doing, we just let him go out there and do his thing,” Zalesky said in a press release. “It’s one of the toughest Division I tournaments in the nation and he places in the top eight. It speaks very highly about him.”
Fagiano said he owes his success to the coaching staff.
“I owe it all to Coach Zalesky and the other coaches for helping me progress and work on my shots,” Fagiano said in a press release.
Currently, Fagiano is ranked No. 6 in the nation individually, while the entire team holds the No. 12 spot in the division. As the season winds down, the team will focus on preparing for Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and the NCAA Division II Super West Region Championships.
Fagiano and the rest of the team will take on California State University, San Francisco, at home Jan. 23.