By Zachary Apperson
Wrestling is considered one of the most extraneous sports, both physically and mentally. But as an audience we only see two burly men hurling each other over a sweaty mat-what about the constant dieting and exercise it takes to get there?
In wrestling, there are a variety of weight classes. Let’s say a wrestler is trying to make the 195 lbs weight class. His goal is then to try and weigh 194 lbs and at his match the next day, potentially weigh over 195 lbs and acquire an edge over his opponent. Many of you may be wondering how this is done, but here is where the controversy takes place. While a standard person is told to lose weight slowly and gradually, wrestlers constantly fluctuate. They can lose 2-3 pounds in a day, when average is 1-2 a week. Granted most of that weight is water weight. However, losing more than that often leads to loss of muscle mass.
Losing muscle isn’t the only thing being lost here, losing weight at such a quick pace can have fatal consequences. According to an article generated by staff at Vanderbilt University, “Weight Issues In Wrestling,” Billy Salor, Joseph LaRosa, and Jeff Reese, are all NCAA wrestlers who lost their lives while preparing for their first match of the season. All three were severely dehydrated and two died of heart malfunctions. When I asked head wrestling coach Mr.Miller how he suggested his wrestlers lose weight, he encouraged slow and steady weight loss but admitted they asked wrestlers who were close to meeting their cut to lose 1-4 pounds in water weight, “…just by refraining from drinking water for a little while. It’s pretty standard.” Miller says. Tustin wrestler Cristobal Segura says, “I don’t mind. Once your body gets used to it, it’s fine. It’s worth it to wrestle in a lighter weight class.”
Even though there haven’t been any deaths at Tustin, nor are there expected to be, some may find it concerning to think wrestlers are being asked to fast and expected to compete the next day, and have it be, “…pretty standard”. But no fault to Coach Miller, I mean, what are wrestlers and coaches to do? Cutting weight by abstaining from food and water has long been a part of wrestling. As crazy as it may sound, it’s the norm. To ask them to stop would be like asking football players to stop hitting each other; isn’t that just as dangerous?
Wrestling in itself is no more dangerous than any other sport but cutting weight so drastically is. All we can do is hope for steady weight loss and cheer them on from outside the mat.