Wrestlers’ sacrifice to make weight for matches

Sarah Francowic, Staff Writer

Fasting, severe calorie restriction, excessive exercise and dehydration may help you get into a lower wrestling weight class, and Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers know the routine all too well.

Sophomore 141-pound Joe Davis knows how to cut weight all too well.

“The most I’ve cut is 25 pounds, but that was gradually over a month. The most I’ve cut in a week is 15 pounds; I’ve never had to gain weight, but when the season is over, and I start eating normally again, I gain 29 pounds in a week,” Davis said.

Davis said he gets really irritable when cutting weight, and the littlest things will bother him, but it’s all a part of the sport.

“The most important rule when cutting weight is burn what you take in. So if I eat 1,000 calories that day I need to work out enough to burn them off.”

Davis’ eating habits vary when he has to cut weight, he said his carb intake is very low.

“I’ll eat a bagel in the morning and that’s the only carbohydrates I eat during the day. Water is the only liquid I drink, and I have a glass of chocolate milk a day too.

“Then about two days before a match, I really start to limit my fluid intake to lose that last five pounds,” Davis said.

Other than dieting and fluid restriction, the most popular way to decrease weight before a weigh in is to sweat out the fluid.

This can be done in a number of ways and can take off five to 10 pounds in a short time depending on conditions. It can be done by simply running, to as complex as cardio fight circuits involving punches, takedowns and sprints.

Pitt-Johnstown junior heavyweight wrestler D.J. Sims said he lost 87 pounds in a span of nine months his redshirt freshman year to become more nimble and wrestle better.

“I always eat and drink healthy, usually water and lean meats like chicken and turkey. Sodexo makes my food from a meal plan my dad found for me, and I’ve lost all that weight from that.”

Since Sims is a heavyweight he doesn’t have to cut weight like the other wrestlers do, but said when he did, it was a frustrating process.

“When it didn’t come off the way I wanted it to, I ate less and ran in a few layers of clothes with a hoodie, beanie and sweat pants on top to make me sweat more, but now I get to pick on everyone else and eat in front of them on match days,” Sims said.

Redshirt freshman Nolan Link competes in the 125 pound weight class and said the most he’s ever had to cut was 18 pounds in a week during his high school wrestling career at Penn Cambria High School.

“The most important thing about cutting weight is living the right lifestyle, trying to eat healthy, exercising and drinking nothing but water.”

Link said cutting weight makes people grumpy and more irritable than usual, so their friends can usually tell when they have to cut some pounds before a match.

“The closer you get to weight, the more you have to watch your diet, and you have to slowly cut out water at the same time; you go through the hardest practices amongst any sport.

“Many people don’t understand just how tiring a seven-minute match is, let alone going through a two-hour practice; it affects you mentally, but only if you let it. That’s what our sport boils down to… mental toughness,” Link said.

Link said the best way for him to cut weight on top of eating right is to get extra workouts in.

A typical day for Link is a morning workout, a two-hour practice later on in the day and then back down to the gym after dinner to run or bike. He likes using high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) instead of just running on the treadmill.

“I’ll put the treadmill on incline, turn the speed up, sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 20 seconds and continue that for a while… this allows me to get a better sweat and conditioning workout in half the time than I would just running three miles… I hate running,” he said.