Begins know their roll

MARSHALL – To say brothers Jacob and Kyle Begin are making a name for themselves after qualifying for the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championships would be a bit misleading. They’ve had a handle on that for some time now.

The Begins garnered name recognition in Anoka and throughout much of the Minnesota wrestling community during stellar high school careers, both winning individual state wrestling titles as seniors. While at Anoka, they also developed a devastatingly effective signature move on the mat that many have come to know as the “Begin roll”.

“It’s our tilt. We learned it in sixth grade and started doing it in high school and everyone on our team and people from different teams started calling it the ‘Begin roll’,” said Kyle Begin, a true freshman on the Southwest Minnesota State wrestling team and a younger brother to Jacob Begin, a junior, who picked up where Kyle left off and explained the tilt. “When you’re on top you just get that elbow and the wrist and you go underneath and put them on their back.”

Word of the “Begin roll” is about to spread from Minnesota to the Deep South. The brothers left for Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday with teammates Justin Reinsma and Travis Peralta to compete in the national championships, which are scheduled for Friday and Saturday as part of the week-long Division II Winter Championships Festival.

This is the first trip to the national tournament for Jacob Begin after a pair of solid seasons to open his career. He finished in second place at 165 pounds at the the Super Region 3 tournament Feb. 24 to earn berth to nationals. Jacob Begin owns a 16-3 record this season, with half of his wins coming by fall, and will open nationals against Chris Watson (28-18) from Central Oklahoma.

Kyle Begin wasn’t sure whether or not he would redshirt when he got to SMSU but head coach Jesse Nelson felt the true freshman could make an immediate impact for the team and let him loose on the mat. The decision paid immediate dividends as he went on to win his first 13 matches. Kyle Begin has an 18-2 record with 11 pins and won the 174-pound title at the Super Region 3 tournament to earn his spot at nationals. He will open up the competition Friday against Ray Hall (14-11) of Colorado State-Pueblo.

The middle two of four brothers, Jacob and Kyle Begin said they started wrestling when they were in kindergarten and developed a strong bond through the sport despite being three grades apart. They both share an intense competitive nature, which has led them to great heights in wrestling, but Nelson says their personalities diverge from there.

“First off, they’re two totally different kids,” Nelson said. “One (Jacob) is all over the map and one’s just really laid back.

“I think, at the end of the day, that kind of balances them both out because one’s at one end of the spectrum ready to jump off a building and the other one is just sitting there kind of falling asleep and couldn’t care less. I’m serious. I think they really find a happy medium with each other and they kind of feed off that.”

The Begins have made a home away from home in Marshall. Their older brother, Cody, also goes to school at SMSU and shares a house with Jacob Begin. As a freshman, Kyle Begin lives in the dorms, but said he heads over to hang out with his brothers all the time.

Being just one weight class apart, the Begins also frequently face each other on the mat to train. They both say their sibling rivalry allows them to get the most out of each other.

“It definitely does give us a lot of competition with the rivalry. He has to beat me or he’ll feel ashamed,” Kyle Begin said with a laugh. “Most of the days he’s got that older brother strength.”

Added Jacob, “I think he makes me more confident. I didn’t make it (to nationals) last year and I think there were a lot of nerves and other feelings there. Just having him here this year and practicing with him every day, he’s one of the guys who pushes me the most because of that brotherly rivalry. I think that helped me this year.”

With all the time they’ve spent facing each other as opponents in practice and watching each other as teammates in duals, Jacob and Kyle Begin know one another’s style of wrestling better than anyone else. And their assessments of one another as wrestlers are very detailed.

“I think Kyle, he’s really good on his feet,” Jacob Begin said. “He can take anyone down that he wants to, if he wants to. And he’s got a defense that he can stop any shot, not that he’s always going to go for the score off of it, which he could, but he can stop any shot because he’s got these hips and he can just stop you in your tracks and you’re like, ‘What the hell did I just run into?’

“He’s just got a feel for it, a good flow when he’s wrestling. It’s really important to have a flow and when you’re wrestling really hard and you’re pushing it in a match and going from shot to shot and you have that good flow, no one can stop you.”

Kyle Begin’s assessment of his brother wasn’t quite as long, but was equally complimentary.

“Jake’s got a really good top game,” he said. “Then he has his tilt, the ‘Begin roll’. He’s got really good defense on his feet and he’s really quick and strong. I don’t know where he gets the strength from because I certainly don’t have it. Then on bottom, he’ll get out from anyone.”

The Begins head to Birmingham looking to use their skills to do some damage at nationals, and though this is their first time there, they have a good chance to do just that. Jacob Begin is ranked No. 5 at 165 pounds in the latest NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll, while Kyle Begin is No. 7 at 174 pounds.

Prior to departing for Birmingham, the Begins gave the safe answers when asked what their expectations are in their first trip to nationals: giving it their all and performing to the best of their abilities.

But the competitive edge that drives them both also came out, and the elder Begin was bold when announcing his goal.

“To win it,” Jacob Begin said.