Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Holiday feasts don’t aid wrestlers

January 7, 2004

The holiday season never would seem complete without the usual food items -- turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing and, of course, all those chips, dips and chocolate munchies.

But some Tonganoxie wrestlers must trim down after eating all those trimmings.

With grapplers constantly watching their weight so they can compete in certain weight classes, the holidays can make that task more of a struggle.

For juniors Hunter Samuels, Ross Starcher and Garrett Palmer, cutting weight has been a chore. Throw in a week without practice and their goal weights are tougher to maintain.

"I came in a little heavy after Christmas break," Samuels said.

Yes, Samuels came in "heavy." That doesn't seem possible for a high school athlete weighing in at 124 pounds. When his weight class is 119, however, anything above that magic number is considered too much.

Samuels, who is 11-4 on the year, said that on average his weight increases four to five pounds above his required weight. For Starcher and Palmer, that weight can be six to seven pounds higher than their weight classes. Starcher, who is 13-1, wrestles at 145; Palmer, now 12-2, is at 135.

Keeping the weight down during the holidays just wasn't to be for the three Chieftains.

"I tried, but I just couldn't do it," Samuels said.

Starcher, meanwhile, made no attempts at watching what he ate.

"It doesn't happen that way," Starcher said with a sly grin.

"They probably wanted us to do stuff over the break, but you know how that goes," Palmer said, chiming with his teammates.

Interim head coach Pat Wakeman and assistant coach Scott Underwood would have been pleased to hear their grapplers conditioned during the break, but practice did resume last week. The coaches welcomed their wrestlers back with not one but two practices each day -- the first always focused on conditioning.

"That's kind of why we do two-a-days during the first part of the week," Underwood said.

Samuels said those practices got the grapplers back on the wagon after the holidays.

"We made up for it in the last few days," Samuels said.

Practices at the THS multi-purpose building also are enhanced by a suspended heater that hangs in a corner of the wrestling room.

Wrestlers hopefully can sweat off a few pounds when the heater is on, which is always.

"It's got one speed," Starcher said.

"Hot," Samuels said.

Back in the swing of practice, the wrestlers watch what they eat and keep on conditioning so they make weight. The morning of each competition, wrestlers weigh in to make sure they're eligible.

Constantly fighting to keep within their weight class can take its toll.

Although Starcher and Samuels said they weren't affected by the yo-yo effect, Palmer said he was -- he noticed a difference when he had to push to cut weight.

"I feel dehydrated," Palmer said.

But for Starcher, he looks at making weight as a bonus.

"When you get down to your weight you can eat," Starcher said.

At some tournaments, such as the state meet, wrestlers must weigh in at the site.

During the two-day event, wrestlers are required to weigh in after the first day of competition and then the next morning.

The three grapplers preferred weighing in at Tonganoxie because they have more time to get down to the required weight before their competitions.

Although some states, such as Missouri, have weigh-ins before all competitions, Kansas only has on-site weigh-ins at select competitions -- at least at the present time.

But no matter how "overweight" the wrestlers are, they usually get back to their required weight, even if the grapplers sometimes have big appetites.

"The problem is 15-, 16-, 17-year-old guys are growing boys," coach Wakeman said.

Tonganoxie will be back in action Thursday in Silver Lake against Basehor-Linwood and Topeka-Hayden.

The Chieftains then will travel Saturday to Salina for the Salina South Tournament. The invitational begins at 9 a.m. THS then will have its first home competition of the season Jan. 17 with the Randy Starcher Memorial Invitational.

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