Lose it or Lose it

To Meet Weight Requirements, Wrestlers Get Creative

Deana Trautz, Reporter

Wrestling may just look like tight uniforms and mats, but apart from intensive practice, wrestlers must do whatever is necessary to meet their weight requirements for competition. 

If a wrestler wishes to compete, they must first decide their weight class. Weight classes are used to match up wrestlers of similar weight in order to keep the sport fair. First, they check their own weight and then decide which of the 14 classes they are closest to. After making this decision, wrestlers cannot exceed the weight specified by their chosen class.

Keeping their weight in check may seem like an afternoon jog and a salad with dinner, but according to the wrestlers, it is no simple task.

They have all adopted a variety of techniques to meet their goal by weigh-in.

Saying an (almost) goodbye to water

Losing 10 pounds in a week was put on sophomore Faith Elliot’s agenda earlier this year. She had to make some quick diet changes within the week, progressively adding limitations.

“I only drank a bottle of juice and two rice cakes each day and hydrated,” Elliot said. “Then two days before weigh-in, I stopped drinking water completely.”

Holding an opposite approach to water, sophomore Cassie King says that she in fact does drink water, and a lot of it.

“Some people dehydrate themselves from water, but I clean out my system by drinking water,” King said. “It’s like a cleansing system.”

Making their own menu

Most of the wrestlers say that they resort to light foods, or those with fewer calories and a low-fat content. Foods such as apples, vegetables, or rice fall under this desired food category.

Lead wrestling coach, Nicholas Asmus, says that maintaining a good weight is doable for those who make the conscious effort to eat well and watch the scale.

“I’m not going to say it’s easy, but it certainly becomes easier the more you do it,” Asmus said. “For most people, when they get down to where they need to be, it’s just about moderation, no wasted calories and checking their weight a couple times a day.”

Aware of what she puts on her plate, Elliot says that being cautious of her food and drink choices is crucial.

“I’d watch what I was eating, then only drink one juice a day, starting two or three days before weigh-in and depending on how much I was trying to cut,” Elliot said.

Sophomore Gage Foulds says that a part of his diet plan includes staying away from carbs altogether.

“I generally eat whatever is available to me at the time, but if I can for breakfast, I’ll eat eggs,” Foulds said. “For lunch, I don’t really eat anything, and for dinner, I eat fish or chicken since they are mostly low in fat.”

Agreeing with the no-carb policy, King says that she cuts out salty foods as well.

“Cutting weight consisted of 50 percent portions, no carbs, sugars, or heavily salted foods,” King said. “Salted foods retain water, which is more weight.”

Junior Hampton Jenschke says that sometimes he will not consume anything right before the weigh-ins.

“[I will] not eat or drink anything [the day of competitions], until after weigh-ins,” Jenschke said. “And throughout the week, I watch what I eat and slowly eat less each day.”

Even with perfect discipline, some wrestlers continue to struggle with meeting their requirements. Asmus says that sometimes players will experience a growth spurt at an inconvenient time, making it difficult to stay in their weight class.

“There have been kids who might hit a growth spurt during the season,” Asmus said. “Then all of a sudden, their body is growing and they want to keep wrestling in their weight class, but eventually it comes to a point where they just eat up and gain weight for the next weight class.”

In these situations, Asmus may place the wrestler in a higher weight class to make it easier on them. None of this year’s wrestlers have been put in the position to move due to a growth spurt, however, some were moved for other reasons.

In senior Ben Bell’s case, he was put in the 285 weight class, even though he was 60 pounds below that. Bell was placed there because the team needed representation in that weight class and they realized that he could fill the spot. While being underweight allows Bell to skip the dieting process that most of his teammates undergo, it also means that he will compete against wrestlers who are considerably heavier than him.

“I can [try to gain weight] but that’s unhealthy, so I’m just wrestling kids that weigh a lot more than me,” Bell said. “I just have to use my speed and endurance.”

Getting closer to weigh-ins, it gets heated

As times become increasingly desperate, many wrestlers depend on the sauna. They wear multiple layers and stay in there for increments of time in order to lose water weight.

Elliot says that the sauna was often her best friend.

“I’d spend three hours there in sweats doing 10 minutes in, then five minutes out rotations,” Elliot said.

And by layers, they mean layers. Junior Ethan Forbes says how he has sat in the sauna wearing over five layers of clothing.

“When times are rough, we put on several layers of sweats, sometimes reaching six or seven layers,” Forbes said. “We go run or workout and if times are truly dire, we wear the layers in a sauna for an hour or so.”

Most wrestlers say that they use the local sauna at Gold’s Gym, but Jenschke says that he sometimes creates his own set up in his garage.

“The night before a competition, I will close our garage and turn a space heater on high and let it run for a while,” Jenschke said. “Then wear a hoodie and run on our elliptical for some time, depending on how much I’m over.”

Then, the last resorts

While juggling school, work and extracurriculars, losing weight doesn’t come easily to everyone. Up until the competition, some students are still trying to lose weight, even on the bus ride there. But once the wrestlers arrive at the competition, they are soon banned from entering the bathroom for last minute weight loss.

Asmus says that with smart dieting habits, students wouldn’t necessarily be put in this time crunch.

“The only kids who really have to cram are those who don’t have the discipline to keep eating smart,” Asmus said.

When the times do get tough, some wrestlers find quicker methods to lose the extra pounds. Spitting is one of the more common techniques used to cut water weight. Elliot says that she has been in the position to spit a few times.

“If I was really desperate to cut the night before, I’d suck on starbursts and spit in a bottle to lose water weight,” Elliot said. “But I only ever had to do that a few times and not for any longer than a few hours.”

In last-minute desperation, Jenschke says how he has combined several techniques to lose weight as fast as possible.

“Some weeks I would just go to sleep and see how much I lost the next day,” Jenschke said. “I would have to jump rope and spit for awhile wearing sweats.”

He says how even though it worked, he regrets having procrastinated.

“I wish I didn’t put it off until so late every week,” Jenschke said. “When I run the night before, the whole next day I feel both mentally and physically exhausted.”

Since a wrestler’s nightmare is to be over their weight class and unable to fight, they do all they must to meet requirements. Forbes says how this often doesn’t go over well will the body.

“Cutting a lot of weight in a week or a short amount is very taxing on the body,” Forbes said. “It makes you extremely tired, careless and lackadaisical.”

However, Forbes says this is simply what it takes to be in the sport.

If the night before a tournament doesn’t define what it means to be a wrestler, then I don’t know what does

— Ethan Forbes

“If the night before a tournament doesn’t define what it means to be a wrestler, then I don’t know what does,” Forbes said. “It’s a really rough loop and if you fall down and get behind in things, it’s an uphill battle to get back on top.”

Despite the work that Forbes describes as miserable, such as sitting in the sauna under many layers, he says that wrestlers come out with much more than an ability to quickly lose weight.

“It’s a really harsh and unforgiving sport for that reason, and the people who stick with it come back with tools and skills that a lot of people don’t,” Forbes said.

Though they lose weight individually, the wrestlers always have their team standing by them. Forbes says how proud he is to be a part of such a hardworking team.

“The team has been putting in an unprecedented amount of effort. Just from observations and daily practices, it shows that everyone is going above and beyond in order to prepare for the coming challenges,” Forbes said. “Every person is doing their job to the best of their abilities and I’m truly proud and honored to say that I’m a part of this team and amazing group of individuals, with two stellar coaches as well.”