In December, Brayden Curnett was one of two Class 3A runners named All-State at Western, and now the athlete is ready to take his talents to the next level.
On Jan. 4, Curnutt announced on social media he would run for Wabash College in the fall. The school, he said, simply felt like a good place to call home.
“The coach there and the admissions counselor and all the admissions people really made Wabash feel like home. I was really looking forward to college, but there’s just a lot of history in the campus. The staff there is amazing too. The alumni network is fantastic. It’s just an overall good school,” Curnutt said.
It took just one visit for him to decide on Wabash. Curnutt said the moment he stepped on campus, he knew it was the school for him. As excited as he is to become a Little Giant, he said he’ll miss the coaches who helped him along the way.
Western coaches are the best, he said, and he’ll miss the leadership that treated him like family throughout his Panther career.
“I think it just boils down to the coaches that the athletic department and school in general hires,” Curnutt said. “Western has the best coaches around, I would say. I know I’m biased, but it’s the way they really treat the athletes like their own. As for my own personal experience, [Coach Gary Jewell] has treated me and all of my teammates like his own children. I think that’s what it boils down to.”
Western athletes are always cheering each other on. The culture there is thriving with support, he said, and it’s one of the reasons Howard County churns out so many quality student-athletes.
For Curnutt, his proudest moment as a Panther was leading the cross country team to state this past fall. It was the first time in the program’s history and a moment he said he and his teammates would never forget.
“You know, we’re all cheering each other on, game in and game out, race in and race out, match in and match out. It’s really just all love around Western,” he said.
Curnutt was one of five all-Howard County cross country team selections in 2020, joining Joseph Packard, the other Western athlete named All-State, along with Pete Bradshaw, Drew Caldwell, and Matthew Edison.
Cross country and track were easier than most sports to pull off in 2020 amid COVID restrictions. The only gatherings are at the starting line, and being outside is said to be safer than indoor sports. Curnutt said he felt fortunate to get through the entire season in with no cancellations.
When the season ended in November, Curnutt posted a statement on Twitter, sending off his time at Western.
“To high school cross country, thank you for teaching me what hard work actually is. Thank you for making me the person I am to this day. Thank you for teaching me to never settle and keep working. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. To my teammates, I love each and every one of you with my whole heart. Thank you for pushing me to be the best runner I can be. You guys will be my brothers for life, and I wouldn’t change a thing. We will go down as one of the best if not the best team in school history, and that’s all because of you guys,” Curnutt said.
It is sad to say goodbye, but Curnutt has been looking forward to college for some time and is all eyes on the next step of his career as a student-athlete.
Last year, Wabash’s sports were canceled, including the fall cross country and track season. But in talking to the coach at Wabash, Curnutt said there is optimism that sports will return to normal this season. Based on the talks with his coach, Curnutt also expects to be ready to compete for a varsity spot right away and hopes to continue to move up the ranks as he runs further into his college career.