Friday, 04 May 2018 00:03

Jaleen Baldwin: The Official Richmond County Male Athlete of the Week

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Senior sprinter Jaleen Baldwin has been named the Official Richmond County Male Athlete of the Week presented by McNair Auto Sales. Senior sprinter Jaleen Baldwin has been named the Official Richmond County Male Athlete of the Week presented by McNair Auto Sales. Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar.

ROCKINGHAM – Jaleen Baldwin, a senior runner on the Richmond Senior High School track and field team, has been named the Official Richmond County Male Athlete of the Week presented by McNair Auto Sales.

Having a strong season and posting impressive times all spring, Baldwin was just one of a half dozen Richmond sprinters to qualify for the regional postseason meet. A four-event runner, Baldwin’s efforts during last week’s Sandhills Athletic Conference championship meet at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke helped earn him this week’s recognition, as he also etched his name in Richmond’s record book and made headlines across the state.

Athletic Profile

Name: Jaleen Baldwin

Age: 17

Year: Senior

Spring Sport: Track and Field

Events: 100-meter, 200-meter, 4x100-meter relay and 4x200-meter relay

Years on Varsity: 3 Years

Height & Weight: 5’-8”, 175 pounds

Experience: 3 Years

RSHS Academics: Set to graduate high school in just over a month, Baldwin is a strong student who puts forth a tremendous effort in the classroom. Enrolled in the sports medicine cluster, Baldwin is an A/B Honor Roll student who has a 2.8 overall GPA and has made the most recent Honor Roll list after the third nine-week period concluded at the end of March.

In his final semester, Baldwin in taking four classes, all of which are at RSHS. He’s currently taking Sports Medicine IV Honors and Weight Training with coach Mitch Hadinger, as well as Spanish II and Personal Finance. When asked which class he’s enjoyed the most this school year, Baldwin smiled and said “without a doubt” it was Sports Medicine.

“It’s my favorite class because I like learning about the human body and seeing how all the different parts and muscles work,” Baldwin said. “And Coach Had is a cool guy who is really laid back. We do a lot of hands-on work in his class and I like that.”

RSHS Sports: During his four years as a high school student, Baldwin has been a Richmond Raider football player the longest. During his freshman year, Baldwin was a starting wide receiver on the junior varsity team, but was, as he described it, an “eight-quarter player” who played on Thursday nights, but dressed as a member of the varsity team on Fridays.

For the last three full seasons, Baldwin has been at the varsity level also playing the wide receiver position. In 2017, he played in eight of Richmond’s 11 games before getting injured, catching 25 passes for 210 receiving yards.

“Richmond’s program is so full of tradition,” Baldwin commented on his time playing as a Raider. “There have been so many great players to come through here, and even some who have made it to the NFL. I’m glad to have been able to play and be a part of everything Richmond stands for.”

Hobbies: When he’s not running around the track trying to increase his time and speed, Baldwin said he just likes to “hang out in general.” He said he also likes to work out in the gym to get stronger and faster, he “eats all the time” and often times finds pickup games of basketball to play with his friends and fellow teammates,

Interesting Fact: When it comes to his interesting fact, Baldwin likes to throw it back to watching a classic cartoon.

“Tom and Jerry,” he explained as his favorite show to watch. “I like to just sit there and watch it. They’re funny. And sometimes I’ll just get a bunch of food, eat, watch the show and try and figure out what they’d be saying to one another if they could talk.”

College Aspirations: With his first semester of freshman year of college not too far off in the distance, Baldwin has received some interest from area schools for his athletic ability. While he noted that “nothing is official’ at this point in time, Baldwin explained he’s received “interest” from UNCP for track and field, as well as Greensboro College for football.

But if he had to choose right now, he’d attend Greensboro College and become a member of the Pride football team.

“It’s just a blessing -- not everyone gets this opportunity,” Baldwin said of getting noticed by several schools. “It’s cool to be wanted, but if I had to pick, I think I’d want to go to GC. I’ve played football growing up and when I visited there, it just felt like home.

“The coaches were great and they showed me great hospitality,” Baldwin continued. “But there were good vibes at UNCP, too. I’m still weighing my options and will make my final decision after the track season.”

Whichever school he decides to attend, Baldwin will enroll in the sports medicine program.

Mentors: For the two people he looks up to the most, Baldwin chose Coach Hadinger and fellow Raider football and track star, and Columbia University commit, Dante Miller.

“Coach Had just has a way of understanding life,” Baldwin explained of Richmond’s athletic trainer. “He helps you see the success you can have at the end of the day. He’s done a lot for me over the last couple of years. He’s taught me and helped me as an athlete and student and has gotten me to reach my highest abilities.”

With Miller, things are a little more competitive.

“It’s always so fun to compete against Dante,” Baldwin explained, noting he had to give him a shoutout. “He always tells the truth and knows how to pick me up when I need it.  He’s helped me a lot in football and track. At the end of the day, he’s made me a better athlete and because of that, I’ve been able to push myself to the limit.”

Athlete of the Week Stats: Last week, Baldwin was one of approximately 300 Sandhills Athletic Conference track and field athletes to attend the championship meet at UNCP. The Raiders finished fourth overall, but Baldwin had himself an impressive day in all four of his events.

In every 100-meter dash he’s competed in this season, Baldwin has finished in second place just behind Miller. That was the case at the SAC championship, as Baldwin raced into the No. 2 spot with a time of 11.06 seconds, just .29 seconds behind Miller for first (10.77 seconds). Richmond completed the sweep of the top three runners.

Also impressive in the 200-meter dash, Baldwin helped round out another Richmond sweep of the event, posting a time of 22.23 seconds to come in third behind Miller (21.82) and junior Raider Preston Coker (21.94).

Perhaps the most impressive performance from the Raiders was in the 4x100-meter relay.  Miller, Baldwin, Coker and Malik Stanback raced to a first-place 41.68 second finish, a new school record and according to milesplit.com, that time is currently the fastest in the state in that event this season.  Baldwin was also a part of the 4x200-meter relay team that also took first-place honors with a time of 1:28.18.

Coming up on Saturday, May 12, Baldwin will travel to Pinecrest High School to compete in all four events at the Mid-West Regionals. He’s also preparing for the state championship, which is set for Saturday, May 19, at North Carolina A&T State University.

Explain what it feels like to have broken the school record as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team? What has made the four of you so dominant this season?

“At first I was shocked,” Baldwin admitted. “There have been a lot of people who have run track (at Richmond), so I’m really happy for the 4x100 team. I’m glad we were able to achieve that. It’s a blessing to put on the green and gold and set the record.

“Because of the way we know each other so well, that’s why I think we race so well together,” Baldwin continued. “Our communication throughout the race is really good, and out handoffs are perfect because we know each other and where the other guy will be.”

Coach’s Corner: First-year head coach Chris Campolieta mentioned early in the season that his 4x100-meter relay team was “something special,” noting that Baldwin would play a big part in that. He credits his senior runner for his hard work ethic, his competitiveness and his desire to always get better.

“Jaleen had a lot of experience in track before this season started,” Campolieta said. “The thing I love about Jaleen is that he is one of the true leaders out here, and he leads by his actions. And he keeps getting faster. I expect him to place first or second in regionals.

 

“He’s blessed with God-given speed, but one thing that’s helped Jaleen is running against Dante,” Campolieta concluded. “He’s faster out of the blocks, so that’s why Jaleen starts most of our relays for us. He’s so explosive. Jaleen is so full of pride and doesn’t like to lose, so he’s always competing to beat Dante. All year they’ve been one and two.”


Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_