For those of you who aren’t familiar with wrestling, read this article about kids dropping weight.


1 Response to “For those of you who aren’t familiar with wrestling, read this article about kids dropping weight.”

  1. December 22, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    HEADLINE: Wrestlers grapple with weight loss;
    Rules in place to make sure athletes don’t endanger themselves.

    BYLINE: By John Cummings Contributing Writer

    Miamisburg High School senior Shawn Fayette knows a lot about the sport of wrestling.

    The defending Division I state champ at 130 pounds, he knows there are two certainties: Wrestlers will cut weight, and it would be great not to.

    “You got to cut weight to be successful,” said Fayette, who’ll compete at 135 this season. “I would love nothing more than to wrestle my actual weight, but if I did that I would be at 171.”

    After getting up to 167 over the summer, Fayette was within a couple of pounds of the target weight by preseason. The reason for the quick descent?

    In 2006, the Ohio High School Athletic Association adopted a weight management program – based on participants being hydrated – to establish an “alpha weight” that marks the lowest weight a wrestler can make by the end of the season without going below 7 percent body fat.

    Prior to then, weight certification took place in mid-January and wrestlers had to participate in half of their matches at the weight they were going to compete in during the postseason.

    The process involves several factors, beginning with a urine test to determine if a wrestler is properly hydrated. Fail that and wrestlers have to wait 48 hours for another attempt.

    “It is something that can stress you out,” said Miamisburg’s Luke Williamson. “You can work to make weight and then not be hydrated. Then, you have to go back and do that work all over again.

    “It is nerve wracking.”

    Making weight

    Once the hydration test is passed, wrestlers are weighed and a certified assessor uses skin calipers to measure body fat. All of those numbers are placed into a computer to determine the alpha weight. Wrestlers cannot be less than 7 percent body fat – 12 percent for girls – and are allowed to lose just 1.5 percent of their weight per week until they reach their alpha weight.

    “Wrestling is taking the lead to make it more safe for kids,” Fairmont wrestling coach Frank Baxter said. “We are the only sport taking something from sports science and making it mandatory. We are cutting edge.”

    “In wrestling, it is the worst thing we have to deal with,” Centerville coach Alan Bair said. “People think of cutting weight, kids spitting into bottles and working out in plastic bags – it gives the sport a bad reputation.”

    National and state associations addressed that in the late 1990s when collegians Billy Saylor (Campbell, N.C.), Joseph LaRosa (Wisconsin-LaCrosse) and Jeff Reese (Michigan) all died while cutting weight.

    Further testing revealed they were also using a new supplement for that time, creatine.

    “Wrestlers have been losing weight for at least 100 years,” says Miamisburg coach Willie Wineberg. “There were no deaths, that I know of, until the ones in the late 1990s. What was the difference? At that time, creatine became the big supplement. Creatine retains water.

    “Guys trying to lose water weight using a supplement that retains water – hmmm.”

    Being hydrated

    Fayette’s testing ordeal was not unusual. He cut under 135, drank four bottles of water, worked out, drank more water to get back to 135, floated some weight over night and drank more water before the testing.

    “I hated it,” Fayette said. “I don’t think I can depend on numbers. I hate to think I could go in at 145 and then hope they pinch me well so I can get to weight in time for when I want to be there.

    “If they are trying to eliminate cutting weight, it is not happening. It just makes you cut more weight earlier so you are under weight when you test.”

    Fairmont’s returning state placer, Jake Sage, took a more deliberate route. He can wrestle 130 at the end of the season, but is starting at 152 as he works his weight down.

    “I got big over the summer, so I am going to drop weight slowly and hope it works out better for me health-wise,” Sage said. “I have cut weight quick and cramped up a lot, so I am hoping this will help me feel better as I drop. I will be at weight when it counts.”

    And, Sage admits, he may not cut all the way down to 130.

    “I am going to go wherever I feel I can wrestle the best at,” Sage said. “I worked out hard over the summer and I feel a lot better this year.

    “I am worried about state. I don’t want to lose before that, but I want to be wrestling – and feeling good – at the end of the season.”

    Centerville’s returning state placer, Nick Miller, hasn’t completed hydration yet. After playing football at 240, Miller is working his way down (he wrestled at 189 last season). As long as he hydrates by the end of January, he is fine – however he can’t compete until he tests.

    Bair is quick to point out that former Elks stars Angelo Mauro and Vince Datillo did not cut weight in the seasons they placed at state.

    “Those guys were both upper-weight kids, but they didn’t cut any weight,” Bair said. “Some are going to cut no matter what.

    “I cut weight hard one year in college and it was a long season. I wonder, now, if there is some type of long-term effects for a kid that wrestles in high school and college. It is a long season to cut weight hard year after year.”

    Pros and cons

    A major plus after early testing is lineups are set. Also, it prohibits someone who might have otherwise lost weight to an unhealthy level.

    “I tell our kids we want wrestlers, not weight cutters,” Vandalia Butler coach Mark Peck says. “You test and that’s it. It has probably made things a lot better.

    “There are some kids doing things the right way to get to weight and there are going to be some kids who are not going to listen. But I don’t think they are cutting the weight they used to.”

    “Guys who want to get to a certain weight class to obtain their goals are going to find a way to get there,” Troy Christian coach Steve Goudy said. “There is nothing wrong with cutting weight if you do it right.

    “I learned a lot of life lessons cutting weight. You learn a lot of discipline. You learn about yourself, your intestinal fortitude and training your mind. Life is all about balances.”

    Coaches have learned how to help wrestlers figure out this process, now in its fourth year.

    At Miamisburg, Wineberg uses nutritional education along with a rule that wrestlers are not allowed to be more than five pounds over with a full week of practice ahead. At Butler, Peck also has the five-pound rule when for wrestle-offs. Goudy requires Eagle wrestlers to be within seven pounds on Monday and five on Tuesday.

    “It keeps them within striking distance,” Goudy said. “If we have a kid over weight, the entire team runs a sprint for each tenth of a pound over someone is. It doesn’t take long for them to realize the team is not happy.

    “But, once the body levels out, then there are no problems.”

    Fayette has found a balance for all that weight training.

    “I think if you work hard, you should get the goodies (be able to eat a little more once a week),” Fayette said. “As long as you are working hard and burning off the calories, it’s OK to have one day like that during the season.”

    Contact this writer at ksjcumming s@sbcglobal.net

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