Grapplers Have To Wrestle With Quite A Bit

From the News-Herald of NE Ohio

These guys have to wrestle with quite a bit
John Kampf

The words hit me like a body slam last weekend at the Ironman Wrestling
Tournament at Walsh Jesuit.
“When he gets used to his weight, he’ll be OK, “the coach said,
watching one of his school’s wrestlers. “He lost 23 pounds. He’s still
a little weak.”
I nodded my head as if to say, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Actually, I didn’t.
I couldn’t fathom such a drop in weight. Sure, I could use such a drop
myself, but I still couldn’t fathom 23 pounds of loss.
It wasn’t until my drive home from Cuyahoga Falls that I started
dissecting the life of a wrestler. A former high school basketball
player myself – yeah, I know, I don’t look like it – I guess I never
really sat down and thought about all the sacrifices it takes to be a
For years, I’ve marveled at wrestlers because of their
practice-to-game-time ratio. No sport is more lopsided in that
comparison – not football, basketball nor baseball, the athletic
world’s kingpins.
Most wrestling programs have practices that last three hours per night,
give or take a few ticks on the clock.
Take a Monday through Friday week of that – for us non-math majors, 15
hours of practice – and head into Saturday’s wrestling match. If your
match goes the distance, three two-minute periods, that’s six minutes
of “game time.”
That’s 900 minutes of practice for six minutes of game time.
What other sport has 15 hours of practice for such a small amount of
game time?
True, most teams nowadays have tournaments or quadrangulars on
weekends. So even if a wrestler does wrestle four times on Saturday –
24 minutes of mat time – that’s still a pretty rotten
practice-to-game-time ratio.
And that’s if each match goes the distance.
Over the past few weeks, my appreciation for wrestling has increased
even more.
The wheels in my mind started to turn on the subject last week when I
ran into Jefferson 215-pound standout Garrett Nash. Noticing that he
looked significantly lighter than the 240 pounds he played at this fall
for the Falcons, we got on the subject of his training regimen.
The Jefferson senior told me about the diet he went on last year after
football season to shift gears for wrestling season. It included a
SlimFast for breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich or turkey and lettuce
sandwich for lunch with watery fruits (grapes, oranges, etc.). At
dinner, all Nash ate for a month was grilled chicken and salads.
“I lost 33 pounds in a month, “he said, “and it felt great. It was
healthy. High protein, low carbs. Most importantly, I kept it off. This
year, I only lost 15, but it came off real easily.”
Nash isn’t alone.
When wrestling season rolls around, hundreds of kids in The
News-Herald’s coverage area and across the nation go on a weight-loss
regimen most of us could never think about trying.
Some do it the hard way by virtually starving themselves, but others do
it the right way by eating the way they should and working out.
What other sport requires such discipline that an athlete has to change
his or her eating habits to the point where they have to lose – in some
cases – amazing amounts of weight? Granted, most of that weight is
water loss, but still it doesn’t come off easily.
No other high school sport tells you how much you have to weigh, only
that you have to be in some semblance of condition to participate.
The timing of wrestling season doesn’t help the participants, either.
Losing weight (and keeping it off) during the holiday season is a
failed journey for most of us.
The life of a wrestler is not an easy one. It’s the longest season of
the year (mid-November to the end of March), it entails months of
proper dieting with long, grueling practices in rooms with jacked-up
thermometers conducive for weight loss.
And the practice-to-game-time ratio is horrific.
It takes a special, disciplined person to put up with that kind of
Even this former basketball player can appreciate that.

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