The Eagle Explains: The effects of weight cutting in wrestling
For our print edition this semester, I wrote about the weight cuts many NCAA wrestlers endure. As a former high school wrestler, I recognize the hardships of weight cutting. At my high school, wrestling drove kids to a lifestyle of skipping lunch every day to go sneak into the random country club saunas of Baltimore because we were so afraid to miss weight. And while that may seem intense, I had a suspicion that collegiate wrestlers took even more drastic measures to make weight.
To understand collegiate weight cuts, I talked to American University wrestler Patrick Ryan. Ryan has one of the most intense weight cuts on the roster- wrestling more than 20 pounds below his off-season weight. In our 20-minute conversation, Ryan and I talked about the NCAA rules put in place to regulate weight cutting and how weight cutting affects his temperament, work productivity and general lifestyle. In awe of how much planning goes into being a wrestler at AU, I found myself asking twice as many questions as I had planned. One of the most pertinent questions I had to ask Ryan was if he had the choice to end weight cutting. Despite the drastic measures he takes, he said that he ultimately wouldn’t put a stop to weight cutting due to how ingrained it is in the sport’s culture.
After talking to Ryan, I wanted to look at weight cuts from a scientific perspective. To do so, I reached out to Dr. Trina Ulrich, a professorial lecturer in AU’s Department of Health Studies. Her quotes were the key to this article; her explanation of the side effects of dehydration and malnourishment was concise and readable. She spoke from both an educator and health professional’s perspective, which was very valuable for the piece.
The purpose of this article wasn’t to make the reader feel bad for wrestlers; my goal was to illuminate what wrestlers do to lose weight and why they do it.
Nobody can fully understand what wrestlers like Patrick sacrifice by cutting weight, but hopefully my article offers a glimpse into their lifestyle.