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.

Also on board are:

  • Osvaldo Ocampo of Sheldon, Iowa, who placed seventh in the Iowa Class 2A tournament in March. Ocampo expects to vie for a spot in the lower weights and, according to Baker, brings a “tough attitude” to the wrestling room;

  • Jaden Lara of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Co. Lara had his junior season taken away from him due to COVID restrictions and contact tracing, but he’s an intriguing talent who brings a Judo background with him.

  • Ayden Reinhardt of Bloomfield, N.M. Reinhardt is still competing in his 2021 high school wrestling season, but he has already qualified for his state prep tournament four times and has placed once.

  • Damon Ashworth of Excelsior Springs High School in Missouri. Ashworth finished second in his weight class this year at state, losing in a sudden-death overtime match in the finals. He was a state champion in 2020, fifth in 2019 and sixth in 2018. Baker considers him an important Minnesota West recruit whose experience will be key.

  • Tryston Treumpler of Shoshoni High School in Wyoming. A two-time state champion and a state runner-up as a sophomore, Treumpler is another experienced recruit whose father is the Shoshoni head coach.

  • Billy Trees of Prior Lake, a physical wrestler in the upper weights who brings a gutsy attitude to the mat. He finished third in Section 2AAA in 2020.

Baker is expecting more wrestlers to join the Worthington-based Minnesota West program, some coming out of the high school ranks and others coming in as transfers.

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“And we’d like to get some more area kids,” Baker said, adding that Minnesota continues to be a good high school wrestling state that does well against other good wrestling states. Sometimes high school wrestlers who place third at state, or miss their state tournaments, believe they can’t go on, but some of them are still developing and can compete at the collegiate level, said the veteran coach.

In recent years, the Bluejays’ wrestling room has been sparse. What was once a thriving team atmosphere that allowed for competitive dual competitions at the college has been missing. Baker has worked hard to build up the West program, but the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic became an obstacle to a comeback. Baker remains committed to building the team concept.

“It might seem like it’s an individual sport, but you need teammates to develop, just for friendships and working partners. We’d like to get it back so it develops and it’s a fun atmosphere,” Baker said.

Three 2021 Minnesota West wrestlers competed in the NJCAA national tournament April 21-22 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Eliot Jurries, who was fifth-seeded at 141 pounds, lost both his matches by fall although he was leading at one point in both of them. Lance Wagner, at 197 pounds, won one match by fall and lost two others. Scot Edwards, at heavyweight, lost his first match, won the next by fall, and lost in the wrestlebacks to the No. 1 seed.