Wrestling with Weight: Athletes change diets, focus on weight to meet demands of sport, improve performance

Colin Gregory, Staff Writer

Students pile greasy pizza and ranch-laden salad onto styrofoam plates.
Steaming pasta and macaroni and cheese sit, waiting to be consumed, on the plates of other students.
School lunch.
The stomachs of wrestlers in all four lunch periods rumble, as commitments to their sport limit them to sparse meals and altered meal schedules.
In order to prepare for the season, wrestlers have to adjust their weight to fit into a certain weight class.
“If I can lose weight and get into a lower class, then I would have an advantage of strength over the competition of that class,” wrestling captain senior Grant Robbins said. “I was 144 [pounds], and I’m trying to get down to 132 [pounds].”
In order to lose weight, Robbins said he has to carefully watch what he eats.
“I pay a lot closer attention to the labels on food now,” Robbins said. “You can’t starve yourself, but you just have to eat healthy no matter what. For instance, I don’t eat junk food anymore, which gets really hard when you see other people eating your favorite snacks.”
Wrestling captain senior Jacob Sims said cutting pounds is particularly difficult around the holidays.
“There’s a lot of temptation, especially around Thanksgiving,” Sims said. “You just have to go all in and avoid those types of things.”
Some wrestlers, such as Sims and junior Jackson Macoubrie, said they altered their meal schedule in order to cut pounds.
“I have to separate my eating schedule to five meals per day,” Macoubrie said. “You just have to cut down on the portion for each meal, and you have to get to 2,000 calories a day. It’s really important to eat [carbohydrates] in the morning, which is when you are the most tired and sore. Ultimately, though, it’s worth it because we have a ton of potential to do really well this year.”
Sims said the key to losing weight is starting early.
“It has to be a long process,” he said. “However, the majority of the water weight is lost in the final couple days, where you wear all sweats to practice.”
Robbins said the wrestling practices are great for losing weight.
“Practices are tons of work,” Robbins said. “If you combine that with always being hungry, losing weight isn’t too bad.”
Sims said cutting weight can sometimes have negative effects in school.
“I remember last year I tried to cut weight too quickly, and I ended up being really tired and unable to focus during the day,” he said.
Though dropping pounds for wrestling requires some sacrifice, Robbins said it is worth it.
“Ultimately, [losing the weight] makes you tougher,” he said. “It definitely pays off when it comes to the meets because I love the competition.”