Getting Weight Down a Lifestyle for Wrestlers
Tue. February 12, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | By Aimee Sachs
By AIMEE SACHS
For most people, dropping eight pounds in a day is unfathomable. For high school wrestlers it's just par for the course.
Right now several Polk County wrestlers are doing everything they can to make weight for this weekend's state finals.
"Each kid is different," George Jenkins coach Jestin Bailey explained. "I've been lucky that I have kids that work out. Kids that cut weight, they do it on their own."
For the most part, Bailey's kids don't have a problem making weight. On the rare occasion somebody doesn't make weight, Bailey said, they're usually freshmen.
Or in junior Ryan Strickland's case, an injury last year prevented him from making weight for regionals.
"I hurt my back in districts," Strickland (126) recalled. "It was hard for me to work out. I couldn't get my weight down."
Strickland is healthy this year and is scheduled to compete at the FHSAA Class 3A state wrestling tournament this weekend in the 126-pound division.
In some cases, the stress of cutting weight can lead wrestlers to take drastic and dangerous measures to quickly drop the pounds.
It's been a little more than 15 years since three college wrestlers died in the span of a month while trying to cut weight. From refusing liquids to working out in rubber suits, the price of making weight cost these young athletes their lives.
The notion that cutting weight is dangerous business, Bailey believes, is just a stigma the sport has gotten from some isolated incidents. You won't see any of the Jenkins wrestlers resorting to those methods.
"I don't let them wear long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts in practice," Bailey said. "Your goal all week should be to wrestle, to win."
Otherwise, a wrestler is trying to battle not only his opponent, but also his weight.
Bailey encourages his boys to watch what they eat while staying hydrated and working out harder.
"If you're running a good practice, your average kid's going to lose four or five pounds easily," Bailey said. "When you take away the water, it's harder for the kids to make weight. The more water the kids drink, the faster they lose the water weight."
Like fluid restriction, saunas also are out of the question.
"It defeats the whole purpose," Bailey said. "That's like telling a kid to go swimming when you're in the Jacuzzi."
Strickland eats five small meals a day to keep his metabolism up, and he runs a few miles with his dad when he comes home from practice.
"If you work hard, the weight will come off," he said.
When it comes down to it, cutting weight is just a lifestyle.
"You have to buy into it," Bailey said. "You have to watch what you eat. You have to eat the right things. It's just like when people go on a diet. If the kids do it the right way, it's not cutting weight. It's maintaining weight."