Weight management in wrestling - the Nick Ross story

By Jeff Chaney
Michigan Grappler Staff Writer

12/16 - At first glance at Nick Ross, the last word that would
come to mind would be diet.

The Comstock Park senior is lean and athletic.

But like a lot wrestlers, no matter how lean and athletic you
may be, controlling your weight is a way of life in the sport.

Ross found out that not staying on top of weight management
can force you out of the sport you love.

After a freshman season that saw Ross take third in the state
in Division 3 at 103 pounds, Ross had a hard time making weight
his sophomore season, and walked away from the sport midway
through the season.

“I was having a hard time with the weight,” Ross said. “I got burnt out because of that and needed a little break. I didn't handle my weight smart. I would eat whatever, never maintaining my weight. I had no diet.”

The sport has put in the Alpha Weigh-In program that prevents wrestlers from cutting too many pounds from their natural weight, but still, a wrestler must work hard and watch his diet to stay within a healthy margin of his or her weight to have a happy and successful season.

After some soul-searching after walking away his sophomore season, Ross got that and has been thriving since.

He returned his junior year and won a state championship at 119 pounds, feeling strong throughout the season because of better weight management.

“(My junior year) I didn't cut as much and that helped a lot because I could focus more on practice. If you cut too much weight, your mind is not into wrestling. I’m much better with my diet. I kept my weight down last year, and that helped me win a state championship, especially because you have to maintain for two days at state.”

Comstock Park coach Jim Olson says he has seen a lot of growth in Ross, and now has a wrestler that is strong mentally.

“He didn't do with a weight management,” Olson said. “He wasn't horrible, I've seen way worse. He is just not one of those kids that can cut a lot of pounds. It's about wrestling, not cutting weight for him. It didn't work out, and he had some other things that he had to deal with and decided to walk away from it.”

Now Ross wants to concentrate on winning another state championship.

His career record currently stands at 130-12, but is 3-2 this year after a tough day at the First Annual Dorothy McClenathan Memorial Tournament at East Kentwood  Dec. 10 .

There he lost two matches, including one to Davison state champion Justin Oliver.

But that hasn't swayed Ross from his goals this year.

“I liked being an underdog, you are not expected to win, so people overlook you,” said Ross, who has been wrestling since the age of six. “Now I'm a champion, and I think it's kind of cool - everyone wanting a shot. You get good wrestling that way, finding out how good you are."

“I want to defend, and feel I'm ready for that,” he added. “But I also want is to get to Battle Creek (for the team championships). I almost look forward to going down as a team instead of going to The Palace by myself.”

And any advice for young wrestlers coming up?

“Start a diet, and eat right,” Ross said. “And a couple of weeks before season starts, get your weight down and keep it there.”

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