Atheletes lose weight to gain success

Suited up in a wardrobe of garbage bags, wrestler Matthew Ellis makes his way into the sauna. For many people, garbage bags are not the ideal choice in clothing, but athletes turn to off-the-wall techniques in hopes of cutting weight for their meets.

Wrestlers and weightlifters are expected to meet a certain weight during weigh-ins on the day of their tournament or meet. Their weight during weigh-ins determines which weight class they must compete in, from 110 lbs and up. Athletes primarily cut weight to compete in an easier weight class, and increase their chance of a victory.

“You want your weight to be as low as possible so you can wrestle lighter weights, which is easier competition,” Ellis, who wrestles at the 132lb weight class, said.

Cutting weight has shown to promote success in current high school athletes, such as junior wrestler Zach Larison. Starting his season 7-0, Larison works up to three times each day in order to maintain his weight. Larison usually weighs about 140 lbs, but will be wrestling in the 126 lb weight class this year, and hopes to wrestle at 120 lbs for states. Larison is currently ranked fifteenth in the state for his weight class, and has placed second at Florida freestyle states, as well as receiving the title All-American at Brute Adidas nationals.

“I think that more than anything, cutting weight is more mental. Your body is a lot tougher than you give it credit for,” wrestling coach Isiah Cabal said. “If you can cut weight and still practice and compete at a high level, then I feel like that experience gives you confidence in dealing with adversity during a match.”

Along with the classics such as running and eating healthy, many athletes are trying new and seemingly strange techniques to try and cut weight. Ellis eats Jolly Ranchers and spits into a bottle to cut water weight, along with spending time in the sauna. Sophomore weightlifter Tia Menna puts on a sweat suit and runs for three miles, in addition to cutting salt from her diet. High salt intake causes the body to retain water, therefore by cutting salt from her diet, Menna is able to lose unnecessary weight.

“Cutting weight isn’t hard, I can cut a solid 10 pounds in about three days,” junior wrestler Joshua Lopez said, “I just try not to retain any water weight.”

Although cutting weight is common among high school athletes looking to gain an advantage, harmful side effects can pose a disadvantage. Athletes who cut weight can be subject to dehydration, and endurance can also be decreased in athletes who cut weight for a prolonged period of time, due to lack of proper nutrients.

“Cutting weight is not required, it is optional,” Cabal said. “But then again so is being a champion.”