By Amber Avila
You stand on the scale before your wrestling match for what seems like the hundredth time this week. You’ve been endlessly dieting, so it seems like forever since you last ate a full meal, and all because you have to make weight for your next wrestling match.
Wrestlers have to fluctuate their weight in order to be in the right weight group. They will have to gain weight if they are underweight or lose weight if they are overweight.
While this is a generally accepted and regulated part of the sport, making weight can be concerning because if done to the extreme, it can badly harm the wrestler’s health. Rapid weight loss and weight gain both have many side effects, especially when done unnaturally. Some of these side effects include organ damage damage and eating disorders.
“People will go to extremes just to get to their desired weight class. The practice room will be cranked to the point where condensation forms on the walls. I have become so close to my teammates that I know how each individual’s sweat smells,” senior Alexis Villadelgado said.
About an hour and a half before matches, the wrestlers are lined up based on weight class. During the weigh-ins, each athlete is assigned to one of the official weight classes. The wrestlers are then matched with an equal opp
onent in their weight bracket.
“It impacts me both physically and emotionally. When the season begins, no more carbs, sugars, or fats. I only eat protein, vegetables, and fruits. My main goal is to place at City and in order to do so, I have to remain at the weight class I want to compete in,” senior Tamara Nicolaevitchs said.
Some techniques wrestlers have followed to lose weight are fasting before matches or not drinking water on match days. Dehydration is another serious issue. According to a study done by Vanderbilt University, more than 75 percent of young wrestlers have dehydrated themselves as a method for weight loss. It is normal to lose a little water weight, but harsh practice of this can lead to heart and kidney damage.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Current Regulations Preseason weight certification is accomplished in three steps. The first is to determine each wrestler’s body fat percentage. Second, the wrestlers complete a hydration test. After this, the wrestler will weigh in. The final step is the calculation of the wrestler’s minimum wrestling weight is based on 7 percent body fat for males and 12 percent for females.
Wrestlers should also not wrestle at a weight class below their minimum weight. They are restricted from losing more than 1.5 percent body weight per week. Only a one-pound per month growth adjustment is provided to allow for the natural growth teenagers require. Wrestlers are not advised to wrestle at a weight class more than one weight class above their certified weight. Using sweat boxes, vinyl suites, diuretics or other artificial and unnatural means of quick weight reduction are prohibited.
“The truth is you have to make weight and if you don’t, you don’t wrestle, simple as that,” sophomore Wolfe Skusa said.
This can all be very stressful, so it is important for coaches and parents to identify signs of stress in wrestlers while also motivating them to practice and prepare for their sport carefully.
“Coaches and teammates always make sure to motivate others to work harder, lose weight, etc. In the end, we are a family. There is no other sport like wrestling,” Nicolaevitchs said.