For wrestlers, making weight is a struggle and constant sacrifice

Sophomore wrestler Dave Rogers works out while wearing warm clothes to lose weight on the elliptical machine.

Sophomore wrestler Dave Rogers works out while wearing warm clothes to lose weight on the elliptical machine.

Wrestler Alex Stewart fills his ride like a clown car with his teammates and rushes off to the nearest fast food place as soon as the season ends.

“This goes on for about a week or two, before I feel the need to get back in the gym,” said Stewart, a 22-year-old senior psychology major from Ellicott City, Md.

After a five-month-long season, there’s a new-found freedom in not having to worry about stepping on a scale to make weight, according to Stewart.

Wrestling, just like any other sport, requires dedication. Not all sports, though, ask you to drop pounds. In wrestling, competitors will try to drop as much weight as the NCAA will allow them to gain an advantage in size.

At the start of the season, all wrestlers have to take a ‘hydration test’. This test takes into account height, weight, body fat, and whether the person is hydrated or not, to tell them how much weight they can lose and how fast.

“The NCAA does what they can to make sure things are done right, but they can’t be there all the time,” said Ben Swanson, a sophomore who wrestles at 149 lbs.

“If you have the time to lose the weight properly it does not have to be that bad, it is when people put it off or do not have the time to do it right, then things get bad,” said Swanson, a 20-year-old computer science major from Little Silver, N.J.

According to wrestlers, doing things the right way means eating healthy and working out, but doing things the bad way is eating not enough and working out with layers of clothing on to sweat off pounds.

“It’s a commitment,” said Chase Jefferys, 19, a freshmen criminal justice major. “When I tell coach at the start of the season I am going to wrestle at a certain weight, that is it; I have to make it.”

“I feel pressure from teammates and coaches, but nothing like the pressure I put on myself,” said Jefferys, a 125 pounder from Topsfield, Mass.. “It’s like homework, it may stink, but I have to do it.”

From the time high school wrestling starts, all wrestlers know that if they miss weight for a match it could cost the team a win and nobody wants to be ‘that guy,’ according to Stewart.

The pressure can sometimes be too much for a competitor at times.

“What person in their right mind wants to wrestle in a hot room for two hours and then have just a small meal?” asked Jefferys. “This is not for everyone. We are wrestlers, it is more then just a sport for us.”

A rare breed is what wrestlers are and most that know a wrestler know this to be true. The wrestlers may be willing to do this, but it does take a toll on the body.

“Your mouth is dry all the time and you have little energy, but cannot sleep,” said Stewart.

Cutting water weight means you can still be stronger than that lighter guy. According to Stewart, he’s always been one of the smaller guys and not being anywhere close to obese, just dropping five pounds can feel like 50.

“My sophomore year here at Norwich was when I struggled the most with my weight,” said Stewart, who wrestles at 133 lbs. “I knew it was time for a change when right after weighing in, I was 15 pounds heaver in an hour.”

Sometimes a wrestler can’t do it anymore and the body will hold on to anything it can get.

As much as the mind may want to keep going, the body can and will give out and this is where things can become scary.

“He dropped, he just dropped and I was the closest,” said Dave Rogers, a sophomore engineering management major from Marlboro, Mass about a wrestler in high school. “In a panic I grabbed his collar and started to get him some air.”

Rogers, who weighs 165 lbs., said he had never been so scared, but is glad things are not like that now in college.

He credits the strict workout program and being wiser. He’s also well informed on cutting weight now, and is better about being healthier and it’s not as difficult.

“It is not about winning or losing, it is about trying,” said Jacob Towse, a senior history major from West Springfield, Mass., weighing in at 197 lbs. “This is about not letting my brothers down.”

“My brothers and I know that when I step on that mat I will give it my all and that’s all you can ask for,” said Towse. “But if I miss weight I don’t even have the chance to give it my all and I have let my team down.”

Most people think this would be asking a lot of someone to do this, but wrestlers see it as their duty.

“My brothers ask no more of me than I ask of them,” said Stewart.

Stewart pushes himself every day because he knows his teammates are doing the same for him and that is what makes it all worth it at the end.

Cutting weight, if done wrongly, can be bad for a person’s health and even when done right is not what anyone would call fun. But one young wrestler says it builds character.

“This sport has made me who I am today, everything is a lesson,” said Jefferys. “Cutting weight is just another lesson and the lesson is that life is going to suck, real bad, but I know I can make it and I have, so bring it on.”

Some parents might not want to teach their kids a lesson this way; this is a lesson that most have to learn on their own.

Pushing the body to new heights is something wrestlers take pride in and where most would turn and run, wrestlers put a smile on and run into the storm.

“If I could go back and change anything I would leave it all the same,” said Stewart. “This is who I am and when I get my hand raised and am embraced by my brothers, those are the moments I live for.”

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