Baker retires as West wrestling coach; Brayden Curry to take over
Randy Baker, one of Minnesota's most celebrated wrestling coaches, retires as coach of Minnesota West; Brayden Curry will head the program.
WORTHINGTON – Minnesota West wrestling will have a new coach for its upcoming season as Brayden Curry replaces Randy Baker.
Baker was one of the top high school wrestling coaches in the state while he coached in the area, and is very respected. He has coached the sport for 41 years, and spent the last four years leading the Minnesota West college program.
“I took the Worthington (Minnesota West) job with the idea that I would take it over until we could get somebody for a long-term deal,” said Baker. “That was my plan, I did not want to see them drop the program.”
Baker has kept the program afloat during a time of great difficulty and uncertainty. And now Curry is in charge.
“He is interested in development, and he's taken over a lot of that kind of stuff and is doing a lot of recruiting,” said Baker. “And I think he is anxious to get going, get some bodies in the room. He's gung-ho enough, and he was a college wrestler so he knows that grind and those types of things, too.”
Curry was a top high school wrestler as a student in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. He had a record of 56-4 his senior season, and wrestled collegiately for five years at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Vikings are coached by Worthington High School graduate Jason Reitmeier.
Curry works as a physical education teacher at Prairie Elementary and this winter season as an assistant coach for Minnesota West. He was responsible for recruiting and expressed high expectations with the upcoming class of Bluejays wrestlers.
Curry has signed 11 wrestlers so far, with an expectation that another nine or so will sign after the completion of their high school senior season. There will also be a handful of wrestlers returning for a second year at Minnesota West.
The net was cast in a wide circle, with wrestlers from both the metro area and Greater Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, and Texas having committed to Minnesota West.
Curry’s pitch includes the affordability of Minnesota West, the ability to wrestle at the collegiate level instead of redshirt and wait at a four year university, and the quality of academics and living provided on the Minnesota West campus.
The new coach expects his wrestlers to put in a big effort. His hope is that the Bluejays will have a full team, are competitive at meets, and have a chance to compete for a title.
“Everyone has got their own niche,” said Curry on the state of college wrestling. “What we have is a lower roster, and can give younger guys a better chance to compete right away. We have an opportunity for anybody who wants it.”
Curry also highlighted how Minnesota West is a good place to pursue a trade.
“Powerline (at the Jackson campus) is a big draw, it is in high need, and Minnesota West helps get you a good job,” said Curry. “A lot of these schools with similar trades do not have athletics and housing. We have the best of both worlds.”
In high school wrestlers often compete in fall and spring athletics. In college, the focus will be on one sport, and that can be a tough adjustment, said Curry. The Bluejays will also face tough wrestlers as competitors at many tournaments will range from Division 1, D2, D3, and JuCo. But a positive is that all those coaches notice the strong performers.
As for Curry, there is a lot of excitement for the future of Minnesota West wrestling.
“There are nerves with any position, but I have gotten a lot of great advice,” said Curry. “There is also a lot of excitement, I have a lot of knowledge that I can instill in the guys coming here.”
Curry has been staying in contact with his wrestler commits, reaching out once or twice a week. During the wrestling season he said he dialed it back to let them focus on their senior season, but as the winter season ends he will dial contact back up to make sure they are all ready to go for enrollment.
As for Baker, he is looking forward to the free time that will be spent seeing his grandkids and fishing. He has left an excellent legacy as a wrestling coach, with effects that can be seen all around the area.