A Stepping-Stone – On and Off the Mat

Minnesota West Wrestling

By Brian Jerzak

When former Jackson County Central head wrestling coach Randy Baker stepped down to become an assistant coach under his former assistant Nate Hanson, Baker didn't expect to be heading up another wrestling program any time soon. But when Minnesota West's Men's Athletic Director Bob Purcell approached Baker about taking over the program, he couldn't resist. As a former wrestler at Minnesota West – then called Worthington Community College – Baker was going to give back to a program that had given to him.

Just now completing his second season as the head coach of the Bluejays' program, Baker wants to keep it moving forward to be a stepping-stone for kids to reach their goals on and off the mat.

"Purcell approached me," Baker said. "I wasn't looking for another job. I wanted to make sure whoever took over at Jackson was stable and make sure the cupboard wasn't bare. I was working as an assistant at JCC with Nate Hanson. It was a good time for me to step down there when I did, as Nate had his two nephews going into seventh grade so he could help them. Bob was worried about the program and needed to find someone. He was worried they might look into cutting the program there if they couldn't find somebody. So, I didn't want to see them cut the program. I don't mind taking over the program for a few years to try to build it back up."

Baker had to hit the ground running.

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