Weight management down to an art

Minnesota wrestler Jayson Ness has had to worry about his weight a little less this season after bumping up to 133-pounds, but that isn’t the case for the rest of his team.

Marija Majerle

Minnesota wrestler Jayson Ness has had to worry about his weight a little less this season after bumping up to 133-pounds, but that isn’t the case for the rest of his team.

Tyler Safratowich went out for steak Tuesday night. The occasion? He weighed 159 pounds. By Friday, heâÄôll have to weigh-in at 157 or less an hour before he wrestles Iowa StateâÄôs Cyler Sanderson ; but for Safratowich, dropping two pounds is nothing. HeâÄôs used to doing that on the day of a dual meet. So when heâÄôs only two pounds above his weight class four days before a match, he treats himself to steak. Jayson Ness is more of a candy guy. He moved up to 133-pounds from 125 last year, so his diet is slightly less strict. Now he can get away with eating larger meals and the occasional candy bar during the week. He said he can be as many as six pounds over 133 on Monday without worrying about making weight on Friday. He can lose a pound a day, then cut the last two pounds in the vigorous workout the team goes through two hours before a weigh-in. If it sounds like weight maintenance is an endless cycle for a wrestler, thatâÄôs because it is. But itâÄôs more of an art than an exact science. Applied like a science, it will drive you mad, Safratowich said. âÄúYou canâÄôt be at your wrestling weight all the time because that would take a lot of work and a lot of energy,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôd drain everything. ItâÄôd drain you mentally, drain you physically. So you get up a few pounds over [between duals].âÄù Ideally, Safratowich will cut those pounds the day of or the day before a match and weigh in at exactly 157. He said he never aims to dip below 157, but if thatâÄôs what happens, then so be it. âÄúItâÄôs more about feeling good and performing well,âÄù he said. Anything drastic, like skipping a meal or stuffing himself in an effort to quickly cut or add weight, is avoided at all costs. Some of the more bizarre practices, like spitting in a soda bottle all day to lose a pound or two, may not affect a wrestler as much physically, but Gopher wrestlers make sure they donâÄôt have to resort to that. âÄúItâÄôs structured to a point where we donâÄôt have to do crazy things,âÄù Safratowich said. âÄúPlus, if youâÄôre doing those kind of crazy things, youâÄôre not going to feel good after a one-hour weigh-in, and thatâÄôs what weâÄôre prepared for âÄî to be able to weigh-in, eat and drink a little bit âĦ but have the nutrition backed up from the past day and a half to go out and compete.âÄù ItâÄôs surprising how much and how easily weight can fluctuate in a day. Between a 9 a.m. breakfast and a 4 p.m. workout, Safratowich said he can drop a pound or two without any physical activity. Suddenly, dropping two or three more pounds in a couple hours by running around in sweatpants and a sweatshirt doesnâÄôt seem terribly daunting. ThatâÄôs good because a couple hours is usually all the Minnesota wrestlers have. The workout two hours before any weigh-in can take many forms. Ness said each wrestler does what he needs to in order to make weight. This can involve running on an elliptical or treadmill, âÄúplay wrestlingâÄù to work on technique, a five-minute live match or a combination of the three. After he works up a sweat, Ness said the pounds come off quickly. According to both Safratowich and Ness, early in the season is the only time managing weight is hard. By this late in the year, itâÄôs something they hardly have to focus on. âÄúEarly in the year itâÄôs hard to get your weight down because your body isnâÄôt adjusted,âÄù Ness said. âÄúBut once your body adjusts, itâÄôs pretty simple to make weight.âÄù