Wrestlers' Quest to Make Weight
By Lauren Lubin
In high school wrestling, student athletes are expected to meet certain weights prior to their meets. This expectation is achieved through a process called weight cutting, where a wrestler will go through a specific diet in order to lose a certain amount of pounds in a short period of time. In addition, many wrestlers may have to add weight rapidly.
Former Novato High wrestler Olivia Severns described some steps used to make weight. First off, wrestlers take a hydration test. This is the process of determining a wrestler’s hydration status. The hydration test is required when figuring out a wrestler’s minimum competitive weight. It will determine whether the wrestler needs to consume more water or sweat it out. This data is obtained through a urine sample that is taken from the student athlete.
The next test is measuring a wrestler’s height and body composition. The height of a wrestler is recorded and used to determine their body composition through a Tanita monitor (a type of scale specifically meant to measure body composition). This scale then determines a wrester’s body fat percentage and overall weight.
A goal is then made for the student athlete and they are required to make that weight. This leads to unhealthy methods to reach the goal, including running in garbage bangs, spitting into water bottles days before a tournament, purging, not consuming enough food, or continuously aiming to make themselves sweat.
Improper methods of weight cutting can have extreme consequences. In 1997, the death of three college wrestlers within the span of three weeks caused the Federal Government to get involved in the discussion of unhealthy training methods. Sadly, these methods have led to fatalities.
Stephan Dehart, Novato High School’s athletic trainer, discussed the best way to make weight.
“So, weight cutting through diet and exercise is the best way,” Dehart said. “While you’re maintaining proper hydration levels and proper caloric intake for a requirement for the activity they are doing, there’s formulas and all those things that dictate what those needs are for the body.”
Senior Andrew Groom, a wrestler for the Novato High team, described his personal experience with weight cutting.
“For seven years during wrestling, we had to get to a certain weight to compete in matches,” Groom said. “So I used to have to cut up to ten pounds a week at a time and it sucks. It doesn’t feel healthy at all and it’s really annoying, it makes you feel tired and depressed all the time.”
Although the act of cutting weight can be dangerous, there are healthy ways to perform this method of training. The dangerous methods listed have been banned from being used on the high school premises.