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Feature Article on ODU Signee Pete Baldwin

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: November 26, 2010
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Nov. 26, 2010

By Rick Pedone (Around Osceola)

Already one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Osceola County history, and making his mark on the national stage, Pete Baldwin still has his senior season remaining.

But, he knows where he will compete in college - the Osceola High 2008 state champion signed a scholarship recently to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

"When I went up there I liked the atmosphere, I liked the guys who are there. It seemed like a good place where I'll fit in," Baldwin said.

The OHS standout, with a county-record of 276 varsity wins, has reached the Class 3A finals three straight years, only the second county athlete after former teammate Alex Eggers to accomplish that.

Baldwin, with five pins this season and a career total of 202, is one away from tying Justin Zeerip's national record, set in 2007 at Hesperia High, Michigan, according to Wrestling USA magazine.

Baldwin, after winning at 119 pounds as a freshman, was the runner-up at 135 pounds and at 140 pounds the past two seasons. He was 54-2 last season.

In all, Baldwin has made five trips to the state tournament and placed four times, counting trips to the Class A state tournament as a wrestler for Life Academy in the seventh and eighth grades (fourth place).

Off to a 5-0 start after the Marvin Haven duals last weekend, he is poised to become the all-time national leader in victories as he is just 28 wins behind co-leaders Travis Sullivan (2003-08) of Monticello High, Kentucky, and Josh Johnson (2005-10) of John Hardin High, Kentucky, tied at 304.

Pete Baldwin Sr., the wrestler's father, said he and his son discussed many options before selecting Old Dominion.

"We looked first for schools with successful wrestling, when we spent days and days going through the academics," Baldwin Sr., a former OHS athlete, said. "The academics fit Pete as far as who he is, and the school has a no-drink policy which fits well with Pete's own beliefs and feelings."

His mother, Diana Baldwin, said she agrees with her son's school selection even though Virginia is a long car ride away.

"We're fine with it because it really is a good place for Pete," she said. Old Dominion Coach Steve Martin personally recruited Baldwin. The Monarchs have sent 22 wrestlers to the NCAA tournament over the past five years under Martin. They compete in the Colonial Athletic Association.

"They have been after Pete hard ever since the Flo Nationals in Ohio last spring. Pete beat a guy that they were looking at. He had a great tournament up there," Kowboys assistant coach Rick Tribit said. "Arizona State came after him hard, along with UTC (Tennessee-Chattanooga) and several others. He had a lot of good choices."

OHS Wrestling Coach Jim Bird has watched a parade of state champions from his program sign college grants over the past three seasons and he said that Baldwin is typical of the group.

"He's been in our program ever since he was a little kid and we've watched him grow up as a kid and a wrestler," Bird said. "He has his own passion, his own goals. He does things that other wrestlers can't or won't do. He's going to be fine."

Baldwin has an opportunity to become the fifth Kowboys wrestler to win multiple state championships this season and to become the first to win more than 300 career matches. He will compete at 145 pounds.

"In college, I could be anywhere from 149 up to 166," he said.

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