A look at weight loss culture on the UAHS wrestling team.
BY GEORGE BERNARD, ’23.
Upon returning to school on Jan. 4, the wrestling team breathed a collective sigh of relief.
When they returned from winter break, all of the weight classes increased by two pounds, providing a significant margin for weigh-ins. Some wrestlers “cut weight,” a process where they lose weight to qualify for lower weight classes because they believe it will give them a competitive advantage.
This season, the wrestling team has had a number of important wins and some wrestlers have set new personal records.
Boothby is approaching his 100th win in his high school career.
“We are having a really good season,” Boothby said.
Jake Badgeley is also on a winning streak with a record of 15-2 this season. He partly attributes his record to his choice of cutting, which places him in the 175 pound bracket.
“[There are] all these different weight classes and guys with different skill sets in each weight class, and I found that I felt more comfortable, and I have a great opportunity at being successful at 175 [pounds],” senior Jake Badgeley said.
That weight bracket is now at 177 pounds after the 2 pound increase over winter break.
“It lets me relax a little bit,” Badgely said.
A myth that often surrounds cutting weight is that wrestlers simply do not eat for long periods of time. However, wrestlers need to eat healthy foods accompanied by strenuous workouts to effectively lose weight.
“If you don’t eat at all, you will lose a lot of muscle mass,” Badgeley said. “[It’s about] eating the right things rather than not eating at all.”
To lose weight, wrestlers have a structured system that takes out the guesswork.
“You have to have a no junk food diet, spread out all five food groups, drink a ton of water and get eight hours of sleep,” Boothby said. “I cut from 155 to 138, but I started like three weeks before the first weigh-in.”
Wrestlers will often make the choice to cut as a way to win more matches.
“You only do it for yourself if you have high goals,” Boothby said.
Sometimes cutting is used to gain an advantage or prevent an opponent from gaining an edge.
“It is better to compete in a lighter weight class because you are bigger in that weight class. A lot of other kids do that too, so you don’t want to be in a situation where you are wrestling in a weight class everybody else has dropped and you haven’t,” coach Matt Stout said.
Wrestlers also lose water weight by forcing themselves to sweat. To make himself sweat, Badgeley wears warm clothing (i.e. long sleeve shirts and sweatpants), and he tucks his sweatpants into his socks so no heat escapes.
“I drink a lot of water and stay hydrated throughout the week [before a match], so I just sweat it out,” Badgeley said. “I try not to lose very much body mass because I want to retain my strength.”
The day of a match, wrestlers stick to a strict diet. They do this to ensure that they will not be over the weight cutoff when they are weighed at the beginning of the match.
“A full 24 hours before [a match], you try to eat food that don’t weigh much like chicken or broccoli,” Boothby said. “The day of a match, you just don’t eat”
In all, cutting can be an effective method of potentially advancing a wrestler’s career and gaining an advantage. The varsity wrestling team has its sectionals on Feb. 26 at UAHS.