Wrestling Your Weight

November 25, 2011
by Justin

Long ago, one of my favorite, yet most intense high school sports, was wrestling. For up to, and over 3 hours, we ran laps, performed drills, engaged, in scrimmages, and exhausted our every muscle. However, intense it was, wrestling was also the most rewarding sport, because there wasn’t any real accessories or sports equipment except your very own body. You would thrust, and tilt, and throw, and trip, and fake out, and lock arms, and once you held your opponent down long enough to be declared, pinned, you won. It was victorious, because, it was your own strength, maneuverability, and strategy that would take your fellow wrestler down. Once they handed you that medal, it went from being around your neck, to your wall.


However achieving wrestling was, there was also a dark side to it…weight loss.


During season, and even before wrestling practice would commence for the year, wrestlers were intent on cutting weight for their said weight class. Wrestlers would not eat, not drink, wear plastic bags to induce sweating, and run for an exhaustive amount of hours to cut weight. I even recall walking into the wrestling room to check up on my gear during lunchtime, and find wrestlers taking naps underneath the wrestling mats to cut weight. In class, I remember one fellow friend of mine, and wrestler, who was cutting so much weight that he turned pale and passed out during class time. It became so bad that teachers would inform the coaches that this intense weight cutting discipline was harmful to their very lives. To my recollection, the practice continued. Weight loss became so intense that many students developed bulimia because of the urgency to cut pounds before the match.


And as far as I remember, we weren’t the only school that did it. Throughout the past 10 years, the NCAA has taken drastic measures for the safety and provision of its student athletes. This was due, specifically to a tragic incident involving two wrestlers who, when it came to weight loss, went too far…


Nineteen year old, Billy Saylor from Campbell University, and the University of Wisconsin’s Joseph LaRosa, and University of Michigan’s Jeff Reese went to extreme measures for shedding pounds for their weight class that it ended in their demise. According to the Iowa Gazette, and Washington Post, “All three boys were engaged in dehydrating practices trying to lose weight in order to qualify for their first college-wrestling matches. Reese was trying to lose 17 pounds so that he could wrestle in the 150-pound weight class. His two-hour workout in a rubber suit in a 92-degree room cost him his life. He died of rhabdomyolysis — a cellular breakdown of skeletal muscle under conditions of excessive exercise, which, combined with dehydration, resulted in kidney failure and heart malfunction”.


Athletes need to take care of their bodies. For as tragic as some of these stories may be, excess in any area of discipline, can be detrimental. Wrestling is a marvelous sport that can shape your physical ability to do almost anything with it. Also, it’s a strongly rewarding sport. With the right diet, and proper hydration, a wrestler can achieve enormous victory on the wrestling mat. Having personally experienced it for 3 years of my life, I can tell you that the healthy option is the victorious option.


For fine dietary tips to aspiring college wrestlers, visit Caleb’s blog for healthy habits for victorious athletes.


Caleb Nichols is a former student athlete, and sports blogger for www.scoutme.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, and Facebook.com for recruiting and sports updates.

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