Boys wrestling cuts weight to prepare for season

Kyle Cohen, Staff Writer

If you ever see a male student staring longingly at a picture of food on the internet, odds are he is a wrestler.

In preparation for upcoming competitions, wrestlers  must often undergo  intense diets to fit into weight classes.

People who fall in the same weight range are matched up to wrestle against each other.  In order to gain a competitive advantage, wrestlers try to cut weight in order to be placed in a lower weight class than they would have been placed.

However, these diets have their dangers.

They can often be unhealthy, and trying to lose weight at such a rapid pace could present health issues over the long run.

“Cutting weight can definitely be dangerous. However, the danger can be avoided as long as it’s done the right way,” said junior Michael Petty.

In the past, wrestlers utilized  systematic dehydration in order to lose weight before the season.  This practice has since been banned in order to ensure the safety and long term health of the wrestlers.

To guard against unsafe weight cutting practices, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) created a system where each wrestler registers his weight and body fat percentage at the beginning of the season.

Then, the NYSPHSAA calculates a “certification weight,” or a minimum weight at which each wrestler can compete.  This is the weight at which the wrestler will have a body fat percentage of 7%, which is what they have deemed to be a healthy percentage.

Cutting weight seems to be a staple of being on the team. Wrestlers know the procedure they must follow while trying to lose weight on the team.

“I don’t cut weight hard,” said junior Sam Goldman.  “I maintain my weight through a careful diet.  I’ve never actually starved myself or been grossly dehydrated.  Because of this, it isn’t that bad.  Of course it’s not the most fun experience, but it’s a part of the sport.”

Each wrestler does seem to lose the weight in slightly different ways, and at different paces.

“I’ve never had to really cut a whole lot of weight.  I try to start dieting a month or two before wrestling season actually starts to avoid cutting all that weight in a short amount of time.  That way, during wrestling season I only have to maintain and cut a little bit of weight.  It’s definitely hard to go through eating less and going through tough practices.  I personally would enjoy wrestling more without having to worry about making weight,” said Petty.

While cutting weight seems dangerous at first glance, when done with concern and while following the regulations, it is both safe and effective in keeping the rapid weight loss to a minimum.

“Clearly, the wrestlers have learned to approach this the right way.  It is encouraging to know that the state, along with the coaches at the high school, have been monitoring the weight loss to ensure the safety of kids,” said Goldman.