Baldwin caps breakout campaign


Baldwin’s wrestling program continues to be on the rise.

The Bruins, buoyed by strong senior and sophomore classes, compiled an 8-2 dual meet record, reached the quarterfinal round of the team playoffs, and qualified 11 for the Nassau Division I championships last weekend at LIU Post.

“Things are really starting to come together,” coach Jim Murphy said. “We’ve made huge progress in the past year.”

Baldwin entered the regular-season finale with a shot at the Conference 2A title but came up short against Long Beach, falling 51-30 on Jan. 9. “I was happy with how the kids competed and they went into the playoffs with a lot of confidence,” Murphy said.

In the dual meet playoffs the following week, the Bruins defeated a solid Glen Cove squad, 54-35, behind seven pins including senior leaders Paul Wehr (126 pounds), Matt Kong (132), Jahlil Treasure (152) and Shea Booth (220), then upset fifth-seeded Manhasset, 39-34, highlighted by sophomore Sebastian Peralta’s pin at 285.

Kong and Treasure capped their high school careers with All-County finishes last Sunday. Kong made a run all the way to the 126-pound final where he was stopped by MacArthur’s Jake Schneider. The highlight of Kong’s run was a thrilling 4-3 semifinal win over Oceanside’s Sam Burns. Treasure took sixth at 145.

Wehr and Booth won qualifier tournament titles Feb. 2 at Long Beach, while Kong and Treasure finished runners-up.

Wehr avenged an early season loss to South Side’s Nick Shimkin by taking a 13-8 decision in the 120-pound final. “He built an early 5-0 lead and then it was just a matter of managing the match,” Murphy said of Wehr, who finished the campaign with 29 wins. “He was clicking on all facets late in the season and scored points in many different ways.”

Booth peaked at the right time after a mediocre December, Murphy said, and pinned his last two qualifier opponents including Long Beach’s Jacob Miller in the final. Booth won his first match in the county meet and finished with 20 wins.

Kong entered the big stage at LIU as the Bruins’ wins leader on the season with 28. He was determined to bounce back from a loss to Long Beach’s Amir Hodge in the qualifier and did just that. “Matt had a real good week of practice leading up to counties,” Murphy said.

Treasure, a six-year veteran of the program who’s come a long way off the mat as well, competed in a stacked 145-pound weight class in the qualifier and county championships. “Jahlil was a key part of our lineup for a long time,” Murphy said. “I’m proud of what he’s accomplished as a wrestler and as a student.”

Baldwin’s other county qualifiers were sophomores Kahlil Cuffe, one of the team’s hardest workers who won 17 matches, most at 160, Isaiah Blemur (19 wins at 106), Jelani Dowe (17 wins at 145), Jendy Rodriguez (17 wins at 152), and Romani Williamson (182), senior Derek Valladorez (16 wins at 138), and junior Krishawn Rose, a wild-card entry at 99.