MORRIS – Morris wrestler Cody Baldridge capped his stellar career over the weekend with yet another award.
Baldridge, who finished 42-0 this season and won the Class 2A 182-pound state championship, was named Class 2A Outstanding Wrestler of the Year by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association.
In his previous two seasons, Baldridge finished second in the state at 182, but was able to win the championship match this year, defeating Urbana’s Arnold Fox for the crown.
He joined his brother, Kenny, as a state champion. Kenny won the 132-pound title in 2014 with a 41-1 record. He also was the first Redskin to go undefeated since John Dergo went 43-0 in 2006.
Morris coach Jon Lanning said the IWCOA award was given for the individual state tournament.
“Cody won every tournament he was in this year, and he was voted most outstanding wrestler at every tournament that gave out that award,” Lanning said. “The only tournament he didn’t get the outstanding wrestler award for was Buffalo Grove, and they didn’t have an award for that.
“For him to get this award shows how much respect the coaches around the state have for him. He was able to dominate all year, and he has had such success over his career. And he does it with respect for his opponents. He never shows anyone up and he isn’t a showboater. He goes out there, does his job and gets off the mat.”
At the state meet, Baldridge opened with a pin over Rich South’s Trevaun Suggs, then pinned St. Viator’s Jacob Wolf. He beat Dylan Butts of Fenton, 9-2, in the semifinals before topping Fox, 9-3, in the championship match and capping the evening with a backflip. After finishing second the previous two seasons, he could be excused one moment of exuberance.
He attended the IWCOA awards ceremony not knowing that he was going to receive the Outstanding Wrestler award.
“I was pretty surprised,” he admitted. “I thought they were going to give it to another guy who was a two-time state champion. I am really honored that they chose me. When I heard that it was the coaches voting, I felt really good because I am pretty good friends with a lot of the coaches.”
Baldridge echoed Lanning’s feelings about wrestling being a close-knit, family type of atmosphere.
“I definitely feel that way,” he said. “It’s more of an individual sport than a team sport, but you still have respect for your opponents. You know how much work they have put in and how dedicated they have to be to get to the top level. People that wrestle know that and they respect each other.
“Win or lose, you tell the opposing wrestler and coach good job. My dad [Tim] taught me early on that, no matter what, you shake the other guy’s hand and treat them with respect. I have always done that.”
Lanning said that Baldridge will leave a lasting impression on the Redskins program.
“He’s had just a fantastic career and he’s a fantastic person,” Lanning said. “Not only does he put in a lot of work to make himself better, but he gives back and helps at camps and with the young kids. That’s the stuff you don’t hear about, but he really likes to give back to the sport.”