Tommy Baldwin wins his first wrestling state championship title

Emma Niland , Staff Writer

By Emma Niland

It was in the fourth round of overtime of the 5A state championship wrestling match that Tommy Baldwin realized it was now or never. If his opponent got up out of his grip, the clock would stop, and that would be it. Baldwin would lose. All of his hard work and dedication, all of the sweat poured into making weight, all of the injuries, all of the early morning workouts, would have been for nothing. Plus the heart-aching memory of being state runner-up last year. Knowing what was on the line, Baldwin did his best to hold down his opponent for as long as he could, and by scoring him on top, won the round, becoming the 5A state champion wrestler for the 152-pound weight class.

This victory has taken Baldwin seven years to accomplish, but he said those seven years seem small compared to the rush of emotion he felt when he was crowned state champion. “I can’t describe the feeling,” Baldwin said, “but if I had to use one word to explain it, it was incredible.”

Last year, Baldwin was state runner-up and a state qualifier his sophomore year, so seeing this kind of competition isn’t anything new to him. 

“He has consistently been the hardest worker on the team all season, as well as in the area,” head coach and teacher Martin Erickson said. Erickson went on to say that Baldwin is one of only two state champions from Virginia Beach this year, which can be accredited to his tenacity throughout his wrestling career. 

Earlier in the season, Baldwin suffered a knee injury and was out for three weeks. While he said it felt discouraging, it only pushed him to work harder and to stay in shape. This work ethic is what has helped Baldwin become the athlete that he is.

“[Baldwin] is another example of our sustained success that is driven by the hard work that our student-athletes display in all that they do,” student activities coordinator Robert Robbins, also known as Bob Rob, said.

After watching him compete this season and getting to know him over the course of the past two years, Robbins believes that Baldwin is “as humble as anyone” and that he “never relishes in his own success.” 

Baldwin is currently committed to Averett University to continue his wrestling career. However, he is keeping his mind open to other potential opportunities. “I hope he keeps his options open, and if in the end he goes to Averett, I know for a fact he will do well there,” Erickson said.

In terms of the high school season, Baldwin said that winning states is the main goal. Now that his dream has come true, he can go into off-season with high hopes for his future wrestling career in college. “I hope earn to All-American my freshman year in college,” he said.

“We had a young team this year, so winning duels was difficult, but for a team that was half freshmen, we did really well,” Baldwin said. He added that he couldn’t have done it without Erickson as well as the team’s assistant coaches.

“He is as dedicated as it gets. [Baldwin] has put everything he has into wrestling for Princess Anne,” Robbins said.