With high school diplomas already in hand, eight Baldwin High School Class of 2019 graduates, six young men and two young women, signed their letters of intent to continue competing at the next level Tuesday.
All but one of the eight will be running collegiate track while the other has accepted a football scholarship. Two of those male track runners will attempt to play on their school’s football team as well. The latest local signees are: Jakayla Hubert, Shondraus King, Cori Jones, and Lanika Ross (all going to Shorter University); Chris Dumas and Gary Moore (Paine College); Aaron Kelsey (football at Kentucky State University); and James Kilgore (Clayton State University).
Tuesday’s mega signing marked the second in as many years for BHS. Last May, nine Braves and Bravettes signed to further their academic/athletic careers.
The most recent signees are a very decorated group. Baldwin High track and field has had Region 3-AAAA in recent years as both the boys and girls have won the region championship each of the last three years while the girls have taken four of the last five.
Four sign to Shorter
Both young ladies, Jakayla Hubert and Lanika Ross, that are headed to Shorter were integral parts of the Bravettes’ recent track success having been members of the team all through high school. In addition to being members of multiple region championships, both have individual region titles to their names as well. As a senior, Ross ran her way to first place in the 400-meter at the region track meet while Hubert took the top 300-meter hurdle prize. Hubert went on to take fourth at the state level as well. While at Shorter, Ross plans to major in physical therapy while Hubert will pursue a degree in criminal justice.
BHS graduates Cori Jones and Shondraus King will join Hubert and Ross on the Shorter University track team. The two young men though, both plan on pursuing roster spots on the school’s football team as well. Jones did a little bit of everything on the track this season for the Braves despite battling an early-season injury. He came back for the team’s final regular season meet and went on to win the Region 3-AAAA boys high-point award after finishing second in both hurdle events and first in the high jump. King’s speed will likely be an asset for the Shorter men’s track team, and he’ll try to make a splash with the football coaching staff to earn a walk-on spot. King was the Braves’ designated jet sweep runner this past football season, finishing the year with nearly nine yards per carry. Diego Dixon, a Baldwin alum and member of both the BHS football and track coaching staffs, had a good feeling about King’s future when he returned to coach at his alma mater.
“When I came back to coach here, I knew from day one that this guy was special,” said Dixon.
Two pen letters of intent to Paine
Last year’s mega signing saw many Braves and Bravettes sign to Paine College. Class of ’19 graduates Gary Moore and Chris Dumas will join that crowd as members of the college’s track team. Moore was crowned region champion in the 400-meter before eventually earning a spot on the podium at the Class 4A state meet last month.
“I saw Gary change over the season,” BHS athletic director/head boys track coach Dexter Ricks said of Moore. “It was almost like a light switch came on. Once that happened, it was over from there.”
Dumas only put in two years as a thrower on the Baldwin track team, but had the raw talent to earn himself an individual region title in the discus this past season. In addition to their track accomplishments, both Dumas and Moore were part of the Braves’ 2018 football region championship, the program’s first in about 10 years.
Kelsey to play football at Kentucky State
BHS graduate Aaron Kelsey is one who has always stood out on the football field. The young man looks like a Division I defensive end, which is a good thing because that’s the position he played through high school. Kelsey is taking is talents to Kentucky State University, a school that plays in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) in Frankfort, Kentucky. Kelsey will get the opportunity to play in his home state often as KSU faces SIAC opponents Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University (both located in Atlanta) each year. He finished up his senior season on the gridiron with 51 total tackles, four for loss, and one and a half sacks. Those numbers and his overall performance were enough to earn him a spot on the Region 3-AAAA first team defense.
“He was a dominant player for us and probably one of the better defensive players in our region,” BHS head football coach Jesse Hicks said at Tuesday’s signing. “I’m not surprised that he got this opportunity because he does have a great skillset.”
Kelsey plans on majoring in mechanical engineering at Kentucky State.
Kilgore to run at Clayton
After visiting Clayton State University, James Kilgore knew that’s where he wanted to attend college. What was still up in the air though was whether or not he would continue his educational career as a student-athlete. The opportunity arose and Kilgore accepted a spot on CSU’s men’s track team.
Kilgore said during Tuesday’s signing that he started running at the age of 6 and kept right on through high school. He finished up his senior season as an individual region champion in both the 800-meter and one-mile runs. At the state level, he and his 4x100 relay teammates took a spot on the podium, finishing the race fifth.
“This is a great day,” Kilgore said. “I’m very happy to be signing to Clayton State. I’d just like to thank God, my parents, my family, my friends, and everyone who’s helped me along this journey.”
Kilgore plans to major in nursing at Clayton State.