Anoka, one of Minnesota's tradition-rich wrestling programs, has produced 49 individual state champions.
Coach Todd Springer predicts senior Kyle Begin will bring home title No. 50 later this week.
Begin won the Tornadoes' 49th title as he topped the Class 3A field at 160 pounds last season. He placed fifth as a sophomore at 152 pounds.
"Kyle is a amazing young man who is gentle and kind to others and a beast on the mat," Springer wrote in an e-mail.
Begin will wrestle in the individual portion of the Class 3A state meet taking place Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
As a freshman, Begin cheered older brother Jake to a state title at 152 pounds. Jake now wrestles at Southwest Minnesota State.
Begin, ranked No. 1 at his weight by The Guillotine wrestling magazine, spoke to Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about wrestling at 170 pounds this year, his strengths on the mat and his hobbies away from the sport.
Q How has your brother, Jake, influenced your wrestling style or your career?
A He's really helped me out by training with me but his style kind of clashes with mine. He is a little more funky.
Q In what way has wrestling at 170 pounds been a new challenge this year?
A I wrestled up there last year a little bit and I kind of liked it because I really didn't have to cut weight. This year I'm not cutting any at all. I'll eat the day of weigh-ins. It's pretty sweet.
Q What are your strengths on the mat?
A My game on top. My bottom is decent. But my top is really my strength. On my feet? Eh, not so much. But I'm training to get that better.
Q How are you feeling coming into the state tournament?
A I feel really good going in. I feel good working out, I'm not cutting weight. I feel great all the time.
Q What have you been doing in the offseason or since this season began to win another state title?
A I did freestyle and Greco-Roman and some camps. It's what I usually do each summer, just a bunch of wrestling. But I still have time for myself.
Q Speaking of life off the mat, I'm told your family owns horses.
A We have five horses. I ride them and two of my brothers ride, too. I used to do Western and English riding. Now I just do trail riding with friends. We have a hobby farm where we live in Nowthen.
Q Coach Springer appreciates your leadership qualities. What type of example have you tried to set this year?
A I just tell them, 'Work hard at what you want and you'll get it.'
Q You helped the football team to the state tournament last fall. Is there something about that champion's mentality that carries over to your different sports?
A Yeah, I'm going to go out there and giving 110 percent always. It's like, 'How bad do you want it?'
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574