WH’s Baldridge creating a new look for heavyweights

WH’s Baldridge creating a new look for heavyweights
Justin Smith

Blessed with incredible strength and speed, West Holmes senior Elisha Baldridge has reestablished what a high school heavyweight wrestler looks like, and the results have been astounding.


Oftentimes when people envision high school heavyweight wrestlers, it evokes a picture of a massive, hulking body with plenty of girth. Often tipping the scale at 285 pounds, many heavyweight wrestlers rely on the ability to move an opponent around by sheer mass, getting them down to the mat and smothering them into submission.

Meet West Holmes senior Elisha Baldridge, the new vision of heavyweights.

Weighing in at around 220 pounds, Baldridge doesn’t strike the immediate imposing figure many heavyweights present. Instead, he presents something completely different, a much sleeker, quicker and stronger version of what a heavyweight can look like.

This particular new breed of heavyweight has caused plenty of challenges to foes this season, where Baldridge has only one loss to his name.

His skills were on full display Saturday, Jan. 21 at the annual Knights Invitational, where Baldridge showed the state why he should be considered a serious contender for a Division II title in 2023.

In a monster heavyweight field that showcased the state’s top-ranked wrestler as well as several others good enough to make Baldridge the No. 4 seed, the senior crashed the party, went 5-0 with three fall wins and was also named via a vote of the coaches as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

As the No. 4 seed in a weight class that was loaded, Baldridge opened with three fall wins in his pool to advance to the championship semifinals, where he and Div. II No. 1 and returning state placer Todd Allen of Medina Buckeye provided the day’s most exciting moment, a double-overtime match in which Baldridge emerged the victor. The title match was almost an afterthought.

As a newer, sleeker version of what a 2023 heavyweight wrestler can look like, Baldridge said he feels like it is an advantage.

“I move faster than the average heavyweight,” said Baldridge, who also used his strength and speed to fashion an All-Ohio first-team honor in Div. IV football this season in what may have been the greatest defensive performance the school has ever seen. “With a wrestler my size, (heavyweight) is a weight you can have a lot of muscle without being that bulky, and I think I have a big advantage in speed on most guys.”

Baldridge is supremely quick, but he is also extremely strong, a nightmare combination for opponents looking to find a weakness.

Baldridge said at his lighter weight, he probably surprises a lot of people when he walks onto the mat to wrestle, but once the whistle blows, he is all business, and that business is usually tossing his opponent onto the mat and gaining a stronghold or advantage.

He said football has played a key role in his rise to success on the mat.

He said making the transition from the gridiron to the wrestling mat has been easy and both fully display his speed and quickness. In addition, he also has a bit of a mean streak in him, not that he is dirty in either sport, but in that he is competitive and aggressive, another factor that has driven him to success.

He said that while he moved up a weight class to wrestle at heavyweight this year, the tactics he employs have not changed as he has gone head-to-head with bigger wrestlers.

“I’ve just tried to stay with what I’ve been taught coming up through the system,” Baldridge said. ‘I know I just need to hit the moves that I’ve been taught from my coaches. Nothing has changed. My coaches have put me in position to succeed. All I have to do is go out and make it happen.”

This season, Baldridge has made that happen a lot, and this recent success should bolster his position as one of the top-flight heavyweights in the state, regardless of the fact that he might not look like he fits the role many people perceive as a heavyweight body style.

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