Baldwin wrestling shined at its annual home tournament last Saturday and hopes to make bigger waves on the county level next month.
Four Bruins placed first in the event featuring 12 teams from throughout Long Island in what served as the final tune-up before the Nassau County dual meet championships and individual qualifiers. Eighth-year head coach Jim Murphy is pleased with the progression on the mats this winter and believes his team is poised for a strong finish.
“We are getting better every day,” said Murphy, who prior to arriving at Baldwin won seven dual meet championships as head coach at Wantagh. “We have some young kids coming along.”
Finishing on top at the Baldwin tourney were Matt Kong (126), Paul Wehr (113), Jahil Treasure (132) and Marc Castel (220). Aderemi Aderinwale (171) placed second while Krishawn Rose (99) earned a fourth place finish.
Treasure achieved the top spot in his home tournament with a pin of MacArthur’s Thomas Mauro in the 132-pound finals. Kong also won first place in dramatic fashion with 8-7 double overtime triumph against Joseph Apuzzo of MacArthur.
“He came into the season with something to prove,” said Murphy of the junior Kong. “He is piling up some big wins.”
Murphy said Castel is Baldwin’s best shot at taking home a title during the individual championships slated for Feb. 10-11 at Hofstra University’s Mack Sports Complex. The senior entered the Baldwin tourney ranked third in his weight class.
“He does everything you ask him to do,” said Murphy of Castel. “He is a great leader.”
Murphy also has high hopes for senior Abe Mitchel (120), Kalil Cuffee (152) and Jendy Rodriguez (160). He said a Baldwin youth wrestling program launched five years ago is starting to pay dividends and the schedule has also been beefed up to prep for top competition at the counties.
“We have really upgraded our schedule to get ready for the playoffs,” Murphy said. “They are going toe to toe with some of the best kids in the county.”
Baldwin’s home wrestling tournament was the final tune-up before the Bruins hit the mats in the Nassau County dual meet championships at Clarke High School this weekend. Qualifiers will then follow for the county individual championships at Hofstra where Baldwin will look to improve upon its 22nd place finish from a year ago.
Providing inspiration for success on and off the mat has been former Baldwin wrestling great and past UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. The former All-American wrestler and current mixed martial arts standout at Hofstra is in constant contact with his old program with Bruin wrestlers often visiting his training gym in Garden City. Murphy said Weidman’s guidance is invaluable and his wrestlers understand how fortunate they are to get support from a legend in the sport.
“He helps us tremendously,” said Murphy of Weidman, who won the 2002 189-pound New York State wrestling championship for Baldwin. “To train side by side with a champion is pretty cool.”