Section title caps successful season for Baldwin boys track

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Sunday, May 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Baldwin’s boys track and field team capped its spring season by winning the Section 6-AAA championship in nail-biting fashion.

The Highlanders posted a 5-0 section record and were 7-1 overall, claiming the 21st section title in boys track and field in school history and first since 2017.

“Both the boys and girls teams were very young, and having missed the 2020 season due to covid made us inexperienced. But all the teams were in the same situation,” coach Ed Helbig said. “During our daily team meetings, our coaches stressed the importance of the team, and for the team to succeed, everyone needed to work hard.

“The boys went on to win the section after a very close meet with Mt Lebanon. In fact, the meet was a tie, 75-75, with Baldwin winning by having more first places.”

The Highlanders were led by a group of WPIAL qualifiers in the Class AAA finals held May 19.

At the top of that list was senior C.J. Lucas, who tied with West Mifflin senior Gino Rybacki for fifth place in the pole vault event by clearing a height of 12 feet, 3 inches.

“C.J. was by far the leader of this boys team,” Helbig said. “During the course of the year, he would challenge and encourage other members of the team to compete in other events. Due to his leading by example, you never knew where someone new was going to show up to try an event.”

Lucas, indeed, has displayed a diverse approach on the track. Along with the pole vault, he took part in the high jump, shot put, javelin, hurdles and long jump.

“He was the leader in the weight room,” Helbig said. “There were sometimes as many as 15 athletes jumping into his lifting group. He always had time for everyone, senior and freshman alike, to help them out with his or their workout.”

Lucas, who was named Christopher Joshua after two of his uncles, is a National Honor Society member with a 4.036 GPA. He will attend Carlow on a track scholarship, majoring in biology with a focus on cardiovascular perfusion.

“I was proud of the boys team as a whole this season,” Lucas said. “Not only did we make the playoffs, but we won our section. This is something the seniors on the team have been eager to do. There were plenty of underclassmen who stepped up and contributed to the success. Even with covid messing with our season here and there, I could not have asked for a better year to go out on with some of my best friends.

“I set my goal to place in the top four (at WPIALs) and to go to states, which I didn’t accomplish, but I am not too upset about. I tied with Gino Rybacki, who I’ve been friends with since my freshman year. We started vaulting together four years ago and have always been similar in skills. One meet I’ll beat him, then the next he’ll jump higher than me. So I think it’s very fitting that we went out at a tie for fifth while jumping our career bests.”

Lucas, who has been doing small photo shoots and modeling gigs since middle school, was joined in the boys pole vaulting competition at WPIALs by two teammates, senior Noah Wehunt and sophomore Robert Kosslow.

“Most of my time is spent either working out on the track or in the weight room so I can be the best athlete possible,” Lucas said. ”I was first inspired to try vaulting by (Baldwin graduate) Nick Lachut, and within the first week of jumping, I knew I was gonna love it. Since then, I’ve lost almost two indoor seasons and an outdoor season due to covid and a broken arm, but I’ve worked harder than ever before to get to where I am now.”

Baldwin junior Joe Kosslow was a WPIAL qualifier in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, as was senior Joey Starzynski in the 110 hurdles. Others included junior Kevin Weber (200) and seniors Maisen Brouquin and Dorian Ford in the shot put.

The Highlanders also were represented by two groups of relayers consisting of sophomore Andrew Barrett, juniors Dom Ditoro and Bobby Konesky and senior Zach Wyse in the 3,200 and Joe Kosslow, freshman Jonus Ruvolo, Weber and Wyse in the 1,600.

The majority of WPIAL qualifiers from Baldwin turned in season-best performances and gained valuable experience.

“Hopefully, the experience will help both teams grow and be able to compete on a higher level next year,” Helbig said. “Our teams had a combined total of 14 seniors, which means both are young teams that will be back with a year’s experience under their belt

“Overall, both teams had good years and can build for the future, but as we have all found out with covid, the future can change quickly.”

The Baldwin girls (5-3) finished second to Mt. Lebanon with a 4-1 record in section competition this season.

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