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Thread: The Evils of Weight cutting

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  1. #1
    National Finalist MOJO's Avatar
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    Default The Evils of Weight cutting

    Greetings and salutations Good Brothers of WT,
    A couple of posts on the Derrion Caldwell thread (re: Escobedo and Caldwell weight-cutting) brought this topic to mind. I apologize in advance for its' length.
    I have been off of the boards for a while as I have been caught up in my son's post season. He has been having a really good 3rd year, 45-8, placing in Brute NE Nationals and Penn St., winning his conference (finally). We were supposed to be finishing the season up with the MAWA Eastern Nationals series (a 3 level qualifing tourney ending in a 16 man "Nationals" , really more of an east coast states) but his season ended abruptly. Not by injury thank God, and not by losing. He won the district tourney and was going into the regional as a top 3 seed, but when I came home from work on Friday to take him to weigh-ins, he was 2.5 lbs over. He was right on at practice Wed night, and we took Thursday off for homework, and bam!

    For anyone who doesn't know, Des is 11 yrs old and not a fat kid at all (unlike his dad ) and he probably could have got on our elliptical and sauna and made weight, as we had 3 hours to go. However, I promised my wife when Des started judo & wrestling that I would NEVER make him cut. So I kept my word and his season is done. He was a little disappointed, but he didn't like the idea of having to make weight again in 2 weeks for the EN if he made it so he accepted it well.

    I have talked to a few people who asked where he was this weekend and they looked at me like I was crazy not to have him "just" cut 2.5 lbs. My reason for making this vow is mostly personal, partly professional (wrestling coach wise). The professional side is just knowing that he will enjoy this sport much longer and be much healthier if he is not thinking about cutting over other aspects of the sport. I am still amazed when I go to kid tourneys and see little 8 yr old 60 lbers running in sweats trying to drop a lb or two in an hour weigh in. They all look like they hate both the sport and their dad/coach! I would hate to see that look on my boys face.

    The personal side of this vow has to do with my own experiences with weight cutting. As I mentioned, I am and always have been a big boy. I wrestled 190 my first (soph) year of HS, HWT my jr year and 190 my senior yr. I had to diet down as a senior from about 210 and it was ok, I looked and felt better and wrestled well at the weight, never having to lose more than a lb or two before a meet. I did shoot up to about 215 before the USA jr. nationals in Iowa and this was my first experience of the insanity of weight cutting. Back then, jr nationals were just 4 days, with 3 weigh-ins 1 in greco and 2 in freestyle. I came into the grecos 9 lbs over, cut it, wrestled and actually gained weight from rehydrating and getting fast falls. I was 15 over on day 2 (made it) and 18 lbs (!) over on day 3 with 7 hrs to make weight. I spent those hrs in the Iowa sauna riding a stat.bike, running in the hot July Iowa sun wearing sweats and a snow parka, spitting tobacco juice. At some point, I was so delerious, I started running with my eyes closed, hoping to get hit by a car or step in a gopher hole so I could break my leg and be done with it. It felt like the only honorable way out. Eventually, I just sat down on the sidewalk in some residential area off the UI campus and just started crying. I am pretty sure that the sight of a nearly 200 lb black teen wearing a ski hat, sweats and parka in 100 degree heat crying was grounds for someone to call the campus police. They pulled up and after seeing that I was a wrestler were debating about letting me go or taking me in on a "302" (psych. warrent) but my coach drove up and explained everything pulled me in his truck and took me to weigh-ins, which I made with about 10 min to go. I actually wrestled pretty well, beating the #2 seed before crashing in the semis. What I remember most was for the first time hating this sport though.

    I had similar experiences in college, with a coach who thought I would do much better as a 177 lber, so I spent 2 years cutting from 220 to 177 and having weekly experiences like my hs nationals- depressions, hallucinations, moody, hating school, REALLY hating wrestling, always thinking about quitting the team. While I made it to nationals both years, all I really thought about was not having to weigh in anymore, so I didn't mind much losing in the pigtails both years, in spite of being seeded.
    I spent my sophomore off season wrestling freestyle and greco at 220's and doing very well, making my first international teams, one of which was with Dave Schultz. I was talking with him at some point about weight cutting and he said something to the effect of "the amount of time Americans spend cutting weight and thinking about cutting weight, the Russians spend wrestling and thinking about wrestling. Doesn't make any sense to me." This really struck me as a probable truism, especially seeing how Schultz never cut (I shared a story on the other forum about his being 2 classes lighter the year he won CA states). I took my red-shirt year and came back at 220 and went as a heavyweight my next two years of college with MUCH more success and MUCH, MUCH more happiness. Went 220 and heavy in the subsequent two Olympic trials and did well, and enjoyed this sport till the end.
    As I said, reading the post about Escobedo being a bigger "motion machine" in HS and so much fun to watch then vs. now rekindled these memories.
    I really hope my son, and the sons of my fellow posters out there grow to love this sport as much as we do. Love of the sport is pretty much the only reason to do it. I hope he understands from this weekend and sharing my weight cutting horror stories with him that he avoids the bs weight-cutting game. Its really the worst part of wrestling, and as Schultz said, makes not a lot of sense.

  2. #2
    Ancient Arachnid Spider's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    Hello, Brother MOJO,

    Good to hear from you again. Your post really brought back memories for me, especially the part about hoping to get hit by a car - been there. I always said I had two opponnets: the scale and the guy on the other team, and I had to beat both of them. Unfortunately, I was never strong enough to wrestle at my walk around weight and always found myself cutting hard. I missed three weeks of my senior year in high school with a strep throat, not helped by my weakened, starved state. My senior year in college was a yo-yo year of wrestling every weight from 160 to UNL (it was unlimited then). If I knew then what I know now about diet and exercise, it would have been a lot easier, but even now, high school kids won't even start thinking about these things until September or later. Two years ago, we had a defending State Champion fail to make weight on the second day of the tournament, and he had been making it all year with little trouble.

    You are right, I loved to wrestle but I hated to make weight. When I became a volunteer coach and could practice in shorts and a t-shirt and wrestle with the kids feeling healthy and strong, it was so much fun. I know that as long as there are weight classes, kids will cut weight. The skin fold tests and preseason certifications have helped, but nothing will eliminate the problem - except maybe parents and coaches with an attitude like yours.
    Atrophy: what you get when you win atournament.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    I do agree with you, Brother Morris, and it is indeed fantastic to see you on the forum. I think the key is teaching all kids-not just wrestlers-about proper nutrition from early in their lives. We also need to role model good eating for kids. So many of the guys I knew who would wrestle at or near their walking around weight were also the guys who had the healthiest relationship with food. They saw it as fuel, not as comfort, a splurge, or a treat. I always wished that I had that attitude! That is the exact attitude that we need to teach.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    Great post. I used to cringe when some casual friends of mine would berate their 8-year-old for being too heavy (he wasn't; he was a perfectly normal weight for anyone except a wrestler trying to squeeze into a lighter weight class). I wonder what his relationship with food will be like as he gets older. Not to mention his relationship with wrestling.

  5. #5
    World Champ ODH's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    I totally agree. One of the worst wrestling decisions I made was dropping a weight class my Senior year in college. I was burnt out by the end of the season and had a horrible conference tournament (the last of tournament of my life).
    Having kids cut weigh before they even get to HSis crazy.


    There is a legitimate counter argument to this which is the wrestler who cannot wrestle varsity because he cannot beat the starter, how do you forbid from cutting weight to make the starting lineup?

  6. #6
    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    No question, it was the right decision.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    Im a proponent of the saying, "i will study and get ready, and perhaps my time will come.". but it depends on the amount cut. Why not build up all season and go a weight or two heavier? It is especially easy in youth/ HS when kids can grow a weight class or two by simply working out and lifting.

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  8. #8
    Olympic Champ ISU2008's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    Brother MoJo, great stories. I had to cut a lot my senior year and it was no fun. I wrestled 112 at Fargo the summer before and made it without any trouble, but our 112 was tough (one of them Reiters). I was at 103 my junior year and was way too small for 119, so back down to 103 it was. During the summer I think I topped out at 126, so the cut sucked quite a bit. Even though it was my best season wrestling-wise, I hated the cut. But what it came down to is this: I'd rather be miserable and wrestle varsity than be happy and wrestle JV. Funny story - I never missed weight, but our 112 did! Anyway, I think there is a time for cutting weight, but 11 years old is definitely not it. IMO you made the right (although tough) decision.
    You do the math..... I'll do the alfredo!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Evils of Weight cutting

    I hear you Brother Morris! I also realized my freshman year in college 142 was not my weight class and I ended up a HWT just like you by my senior year.

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