Above pictured: The Freeman wrestling team for the 2018-19 season.
“Wrestling is not for everyone,” said freshman Freeman wrestler Bradley Perkins.
Wrestlers face a unique challenge that few non-wrestlers understand. To keep opponents evenly matched the sport organizes players into weight classes. Each team can only wrestle one person in each weight class.
While in season, Freeman wrestlers pay close attention to their weight, often having to cut weight to make sure they can weigh in at the class they’re wrestling in come competition day. Bradley has it especially hard as a freshman on varsity wrestling in the 132-pound weight class with seniors in the weight classes above him.
This meant Bradley has to maintain 132 pounds or below, but not too far below, so that he is not too much smaller than his opponents. Bradley described the physical struggle of skipping meals as, “not having any energy for your matches.”
There is also the mental struggle of avoiding food, which is especially hard when, “sitting in the lunch room during the school day, not being able to eat, and watching people around you eating,” said Bradley.
Junior wrestler Connor Speidell described his own personal struggle with cutting weight. “I was doing well until Thanksgiving. We went of town to my grandma’s house and she didn’t have a scale,” Connor said.
Despite paying careful attention to his exercise and what he ate, Connor still was still eight pounds over with only four days till his next tournament. “That was a rough week,” Connor said.
“Tips are lots of celery and water. No carbs or sweets,” Connor said.
While these weight cutting practices might seem unhealthy, the VHSL has implemented rules to ensure that wrestlers are not cutting too much weight in one season.
Freeman’s wrestlers visit Freeman’s athletic trainer, Dennis Spurrier, at the beginning of the season to test their weight cutting limits. This ensures their safety even while they navigate the challenges of weight classes.
Wrestling takes self-control, dedication, and commitment on and off the mats, but Freeman’s wrestlers willingly make these sacrifices for the love of the sport.
“Wrestling is a great sport, but with every sport there are requirements that need to be done,” Bradley said.