this probably stunted my growth when i was in high school and the coaches encouraged me to lose weight so i could wrestle in a lower weight class. schools should be educating kids, not having them win medals for school sport programs

Rules put limits on practice of cutting weight By Steve Burks, Tribune January 24, 2006

Spencer Jasper is getting proficient in applied mathematics. The Highland High School senior has wrestled most of the season at 130 pounds, but hes planning to move down a class to 125. In the past, that wouldnt be a problem. Wrestlers could drop five pounds in one strenuous practice.

Now, under new rules regarding weight loss, or cutting, first implemented last season, Jasper can only lose 1.5 percent of his weight (1.95 pounds) per week.

Both days here I had to weigh in at 128.5 so I could wrestle at 125 next week (wrestlers get a two-pound allowance after the holidays), Jasper said Saturday between matches at the Tim Van Horn Invitational in Payson, where he won the 132-pound championship.

All of this math became necessary last year when the Arizona Interscholastic Association began initial implementation of a new weightmanagement system that the governing body of high school sports, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), will require in all states next year.

The new rules include a body fat assessment in which the athletes urine is also tested to assure they are fully hydrated. Under a monitored, weekly weight loss plan, wrestlers cannot lose more than 1.5 percent of their weight a week. The new rules all but eliminate the rapid weight loss that was common in the past and was a major factor in the deaths of three college wrestlers within 33 days of one another in 1997.

Gone are the days of showing up for the first day of wrestling practice weighing 170 pounds and working your way down to 145. And wrestlers can no longer sweat and starve for a week to drop five to 10 pounds for an upcoming tournament.

My first two years, you just come in to practice and work out until you feel like you are at whatever weight you can go to, said Jasper, the 5A champion at 125 pounds last year. Last two years, it seemed like you had to do a lot of preseason work to get your weight down to certify, because once you certify, you are committed to a weight.

Weight certification in Arizona takes place in November for the majority of wrestlers, which means they have just a few weeks to get down to the weight they want to wrestle. That puts a premium on preseason work.

You have to test before the first competition, so before the season we really start to take a look at what weight class each guy needs to get to, Mesa coach Bob Williams said.

Currently, you can only be certified once, so coaches will hold out some athletes to give them more time to get their weight down before they certify and begin competing.

And there are stringent guidelines.

If a wrestlers certified weight is 119.5 pounds with 7 percent body fat (the low-end cutoff), that wrestler cannot compete in the 119-pound class because he would have to go below 7 percent body fat to shed the extra 1 /2 pound.

Many wrestlers naturally carry a body fat percentage lower than 7 percent, so whatever weight they are certified at is the lowest weight they can go.

For me, I wrestle at 119, so I came in and I had to make that weight or I wouldnt be able to wrestle at 119, said Red Mountain junior Greg Carbajal, one of those wrestlers who are naturally below 7 percent body fat. The test is screwy for tall kids like me because they have to get down to their weight at certification.

Heavier wrestlers have a little wiggle room because they carry a higher percentage of body fat. Those athletes can move down in weight classes until they hit the 7 percent cutoff. However, moving down in weight doesnt happen in a week, it must happen in increments of 1.5 percent per week.

My sophomore year, we had a guy wrestling 130 all year long and then Maryvales Angel Cejudo (now at Arizona State) came down to his weight so he dropped down a weight, Jasper said. Under the new certification, he wouldnt be able to do it because he didnt have much body fat.

Some wrinkles at the high school level need to be ironed out, from testing issues to reporting and enforcement issues.

The NCAA (from which the NFHS adopted its policy) allows a second weight certification later in the season for athletes who want to be recertified.

But the most glaring issue is when weight allowances come in to play.

High school wrestlers are given a two-pound allowance after the holidays, so they can weigh 121 pounds and wrestle in the 119 class. Also, if a team competes on consecutive days, wrestlers are allowed an additional two pounds at weigh-in.

If my 103-pounder weighs in at 107, he would be able to wrestle in that tournament but couldnt compete at 103 the following week because hed have to lose more than 1.5 percent, Williams said. Theres some adjustments Im sure theyll make. Its an old rule coming into conflict with a new rule.

Contact Steve Burks by telephone at (480) 898-6525.

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