Brandon Paulson will be there. So will Jake Deitchler. And it wouldn’t be complete without Dan Chandler, who will be there, too.
All three are Olympic wrestlers, multiple-time state high school wrestling meet champions and graduates of Anoka High School. They will be among the most notable attendees when Anoka celebrates its 75th year as a varsity wrestling program.
Centered around a dual meet against St. Francis, the Anoka Wrestling Alumni booster club is sponsoring 75 Years of Anoka Wrestling on Friday at Anoka High School.
Paulson, a silver medalist at 52 Kg (114.5 pounds) in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1996 Olympics, and Deitchler, who finished 12th at 66 Kg (145.5 pounds) in Greco-Roman in 2008, are the biggest names to be honored during the celebration. Also being recognized will be Chandler, who wrestled in the 1976 and 1984 Olympic games and went on to become an Olympic wrestling coach.
Anoka graduates Dave and Jim Hazelwinkel, brothers who competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, will also be honored but will not be in attendance.
The evening is not just chance to recognize Anoka’s most celebrated wrestlers, said Brad Holmbo, a 1973 Anoka grad who is also the alumni club’s co-president. It’s meant to bring together anyone who has wrestled for the Tornadoes.
“As long as they were in the [wrestling] room, they’re considered alumni and they’re welcome,” Holmbo said. “It could be a three-time state champion or a kid who was just there for a year and decided he didn’t like it. As long as he was in the room.”
There is no charge for alumni.
Holmbo said that after 75 years of Anoka wrestling -- a period in which time the team has won seven team titles, 52 individual championships and had nearly 350 state tournament entrants -- he runs into alumni wherever he goes.
“One time, I was in Mexico and I was wearing a hat that said ‘Anoka Wrestling,’” Holmbo recalled. “I was walking by the pool and someone yelled ‘Hey, Anoka wrestling.’ It was Brandon Paulson’s sister.”
The event begins at 5 p.m. with alumni getting a tour of Anoka's high school and its still-under-construction expansion of the weight room and wrestling facilities. The Anoka/St. Francis match is at 6 p.m., followed by a social gathering at the Anoka American Legion.
“That’s where we can visit and tell lies to each other,” Holmbo said with a laugh.
Holmbo said he expects 300 to 400 former wrestlers to show up Friday. “It’s like a family. We’re calling it ‘A Family Tradition,’” he said. “Wrestlers, we’re kind of touchy-feely guys.”