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Baldwin enjoys strong qualifier

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Seniors Kylen Dickens and Marc Castel led a strong contingent of Baldwin wrestlers at last Saturday’s Nassau County Qualifying Tournament hosted by Plainedge.

Dickens captured the 132-pound crown and Castel topped the field at 285 to lead the Bruins to a solid third-place finish in the seven-team event. Senior Aderemi Aderinwale (170) and juniors Paul Wehr (113) and Matt Kong (126) were runners-up, while eight others performed well enough to advance to this week’s county championships at Hofstra.

“We had an awesome tournament,” Baldwin coach Jim Murphy said. “The pin machine was in full effect. The kids were excited to be there and walked out with a great sense of accomplishment. Seeing 13 of them qualify for counties exceeded my expectations.”

Dickens capped a four-win tournament with a 3-1 decision over Plainedge’s Nick Ragione in the finals. “He was tough on top all day,” Murphy said of Dickens, who in the semifinals knocked off junior teammate Jahlil Treasure (third place) for the first time in three tries this season. “Kylen was a little bit of a surprise, but he sure deserved it,” he added.

After some extensive research, Murphy said he went the strategic route with Castel and entered him in the highest weight class instead of 220. Castel will take a 30-2 record into the county meet where he’ll be among the favorites for the title with Lynbrook’s Matt Renz. “We moved him up because he has a win against Renz and he’s done just fine against bigger dudes,” Murphy said of Castel, who beat Farmingdale’s Ryan Charleston in the finals of the qualifier.

Aderinwale, a four-year member of the varsity who’s kept it together this season, is peaking at the right time, Murphy said. He’s 19-15 after a solid qualifier that saw him reach the finals before falling to Farmingdale’s Nick Franco. “He’s had a strong past few weeks,” Murphy said. “He’s really stuck with it and getting results.”

Wehr is considered a wild card to go deep in the county tournament in his coach’s opinion. After losing four times to Roslyn’s Michael Gallardo, Wehr flipped the result in the semifinals of the qualifier and wrestled tough in the finals before coming up short against Alex Almonte of Farmingdale. “Paul always makes things tough for his opponent,” Murphy noted.

Kong’s run in the qualifier ended with a loss to two-time county champion Jared Altan of Plainedge in the finals, 6-4. “Matt battled hard,” Murphy said. “He won three matches and was outstanding in the finals. I’m hoping he can get All-County.”

Freshman Kalil Cuffre (fourth at 152), sophomores Keishawn Rose (third at 99) and Wilbur Diaz (fourth at 160), and junior Shra Booth (third at 182) had some of the more impressive qualifier showings, Murphy said.

“The whole program is pointed in the right direction,” he said. “We’ll see where the dominoes fall next weekend.”

The county tournament at Hofstra begins this Saturday at 10 a.m. The finals are set for Sunday at 6:30 p.m.