Bluejays Bring a Lot of Talent and Desire to the Mat

Minnesota West Community & Technical College is Excited to Compete

By Matt Krumrie

Minnesota West CTC wrestling coach Randy Baker has one returning wrestler on his roster. And he couldn't be more excited.

That's because, after two years of cancellations and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bluejays will compete in a full schedule that includes dual meets, tournaments, conference/regional tournaments, and the NJCAA national championships.

"After a very abbreviated schedule in 20-21, we are very much looking forward to a full season of events," said Baker.

It's not uncommon for NJCAA programs to deal with roster turnover - that's the nature of a two-year program. So, having a lineup of newcomers is nothing new for Baker, now in his third year leading Minnesota West.

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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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Minnesota West stocking up with wrestling talent

WORTHINGTON — Fans of local college wrestling anxious to see a return to regular team competitions could see it at Minnesota West Community and Technical College next year. Second-year head coach Randy Baker has been hard at work on the recruiting trail, and he’s already received commitments from several wrestlers from across a variety of states.

Among his top recruits thus far is Jacob Vogel of Dell Rapids, S.D., who captured a state high school individual championship in 2021 after placing fourth in 2020, fourth in 2019 and becoming a first-time state qualifier in 2018. Continue reading at →