Wrestling is a sport that requires strength, determination, and quick thinking; however, wrestlers must also take additional steps to not only improve their ability, but also their eligibility. On a daily basis, wrestlers must monitor their diets and schedules and maintain their weight classes.
Implemented in high school wrestling, weight classes help to avoid mismatches and to ensure the safety of the wrestlers. Without these classifications, teams can create uneven matchups that can result in serious injuries. Typically, there are 14 different weight classes with intervals ranging from 106 to 285 pounds. Before the season starts, wrestlers are weighed to determine the minimum weight classes they are allowed to compete in, and after that, it is up to the coach to finalize the decision. Furthermore, wrestlers are also weighed before each match to ensure that they still qualify for their weight class throughout the entire season.
Remi Hebert ’18 said part of this process even requires a wrestler to monitor his weight on a daily basis. “It is all about not putting on too much when you eat dinner and then working really hard at practice to sweat off all the weight. This makes it easier to maintain a healthy balance between eating and losing weight during rigorous practices. Many wrestlers believe the hardest part about maintaining weight is the discipline and self-control necessary to stay at a constant weight for many months.”
Drew Beamer ’18 attributed his ability to maintain weight to his own inner discipline. “I eat light and often have to work out quite a bit,” Beamer said, adding that this often takes his focus off of school.
It is important that wrestlers maintain their weight classes, but it can be draining. In order to lose weight, some wrestlers will eat less food than is healthy for them. Beamer said this is one of the hardest aspects of wrestling. “I can’t eat, even when [I] am starving.” Conversely, weight gain can be achieved the unhealthy way by eating too many foods that are high in fats. According to USA Wrestling, a typical wrestler’s diet should include drinking lots of water and juices instead of sodas, and eating fruits, baked potatoes, egg whites, foods that are high in fiber and switching to skim milk, which has less fat than regular milk.
Head Coach Rashone Johnson said his advice for cutting weight is simple. “Be mindful of what you’re eating and how much you work out,” Johnson said. It is essential that wrestlers, especially those at the high school level, balance weight management with staying nutritionally sound.
With a few its players cutting and gaining weight throughout the season, Princeton finished its regular season with an 8–12 record and an undefeated divisional record of 3–0. Johnson said, “This season has been a battle … We have had some nice things happen and some not so nice things happen.” Two wrestlers on the team, James Verbeyst ’17 and Alec Bobchin ’19, placed first in their respective weight classes at the county tournament, with many of the other wrestlers also placing in their respective weight classes.
But in every single match, the team had to overcome a nagging obstacle.
“[We are] missing wrestlers for the 106 and 160 pound weight classes,” said Daniel Monahan ’19. “Missing those weights is pretty big because that is already twelve points our team [loses in] forfeits. It can hurt us and sometimes even take away wins.”
Despite starting every match with points deducted, the team claimed the Colonial Valley Conference division title to end the regular season after defeating Trenton High School and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South.
“We’ve shown steady improvement throughout the whole season,” Johnson said. “We have gotten better and better as a team.”
In a sport where two athletes compete against each other, wrestlers must also compete with themselves in order to stay fit and remain in their weight class.