Athletes have a higher standard for proper dieting

Steering clear from delicious foods saturated in fat and filled with sugar to fit into red and white skin tight uniforms.

Many sports require the athletes to be in their best physical condition. One sport that athletes have to go above and beyond to stay in shape for is wrestling.

Most have heard stories of wrestlers cutting a lot of food and beverages out of their diet and exercising excessively to make weight. At first glance, the idea of students putting that much effort to change their weight seems dangerously unhealthy, but that isn’t the case for most wrestlers nowadays.

“The old school way of weight loss is why wrestling immediately grabs a negative connotation,” wrestling coach Brandon Benson said.

Wrestlers do have to stick to a strict diet and exercise regimen, but the coaches go through a process to make sure their wrestlers are healthy. Their weight class is determined by the National Federation of High School Athletics from data accumulated by a census of high school athletes. Before each season, wrestlers have to do a hydration test and a test which calculates their body fat. An athletic trainer then calculates the results of those tests to find the amount of weight a wrestler can lose while maintaining 5 percent body fat. During the season, the amount of weight wrestlers lose is monitored.

“Sometimes, in one practice, a wrestler may lose five to eight pounds,” Benson said. “With that, constant monitoring by the coaching staff on what the kids are putting into their bodies is a must.”

Another step to making sure the athletes remain healthy is educating them on the proper ways to diet and exercise.

“Duncan wrestlers are very educated in the proper way to lose weight,” Benson said. “By knowing how the body processes simple foods and loses water weight, a wrestler can drop weight the right way and still have the proper nutrition.”

They are taught to eat soups, fruits that contain a lot of water, and lean meats.

Wrestlers put a lot of effort in to participate in the sport. Some even work out three to four times a day. Junior Will Hicks starts his day by going to the Simmons Center at 6 a.m. to use the sauna and hot tub to sweat off water weight. Then during lunch, he runs with sweats on for half an hour. Later during practice he also works out, and at 5 p.m., he usually tries to run outside the football stadium or go back to the Simmons Center to work out yet again.

Sophomore Dylan Morris also does a lot of cardio to keep in shape.

“I normally put on sweats and run or sit in the sauna at the Simmons Center. I probably exercise three to four times a day,” Morris said. “Most of the time, I run and use the bicycle machine.”

Morris is restricted to foods high in protein and little water with no bread or sodium saturated foods.

“On the day of weigh-ins, I eat very little,” he said.

Wrestlers don’t eat a lot, but the foods they consume are usually nutritious, and there haven’t been serious health concerns recently.

“Wrestling is probably the hardest sport to perform in. You have to have tons of dedication,” Hicks said. “As far as health concerns are, I’ve always been fine. The coaching staff does an awesome job at keep up with your weight and your health.”

Although wrestlers have to work their life around the sport, they still love it.

“It’s definitely worth it,” Hicks said. “I love the sport. My favorite part about it is getting my hand raised at the end and knowing that I mentally and physically beat my opponent on the mat.”