Tough Decision Looms for Patriots’ Baynes

WHEELING – For the past two years, the spotlight has been shining brightly on Wheeling Park’s Errin Baynes.

While the Patriots senior has been enjoying every second of his high school days, soon comes the decision as to where he take his high-jumping talents to the collegiate level.

To say the very least, the full-court press has been on from colleges all over the country to add the talented high jumper to their track programs.

”It’s been a blast,” Baynes said. ”Every trip I’ve been on has been so much fun. You have a host when you go and they make sure you have a good time.

”I’ve been able to be around some of the best coaches and some of the best high jumpers in the country.”

Baynes has been offered full scholarships and taken official visits to Kansas State, Maryland, and Southern California.

Unofficially, he has toured Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Kentucky.

”I’m only going to go through this one time in my life so I am trying to make the most of it,” Baynes said. ”It can be pretty stressful because everyone is asking you and I think to myself, ‘where do I really want to go?’ It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I am really trying to make sure I make the right decision.”

While touring the Kansas State campus, Baynes met long-time track coach Cliff Rovelto and Erik Kynard, the 2011 NCAA national champion in the high jump, was his host.

During his trip to USC, Baynes was invited to watch the USC-Stanford game (a triple-overtime thriller won by the Cardinal) and be on the field in front of the student section before the game.

”I really like USC,” Baynes said. ”Maryland and USC are my top two right now.”

One thing going in the Trojans favor is high jump coach Mike Pullins, who coached Jesse Williams, the best high-jumper in the world with a mark of 7 feet, 9.5 inches.

Baynes will make a verbal commitment in the next month and will sign his letter of intent in February.

Until then, Baynes, who just finished another successful soccer season in which he led the Patriots to an OVAC championship and a spot in the state tournament, will look to do the same on the basketball squad.

”I am just trying to live life in the moment,” Baynes said. ”I know track season is going to be really exciting. I really want that state record and that is going to lead to me getting a lot of publicity.

”But right now, I just want to win a state championship in basketball. We didn’t accomplish that in soccer so I really want to get this basketball title. All my focus is trying to be the best basketball player I can be and when track season comes, I will think about track.

”I am just hoping to stay healthy until I get there. Soccer can be slide tackles, people going at your legs, and I got through that alright. Now I just hope I can get through basketball season and into track season with no injuries. I don’t want any setbacks for my senior year.”