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How I nearly died cutting weight for the Olympic Regional in Iowa

It was 1992.  I had already finished 4th in a regional in Pennsylvania following a dastardly cut to 125.5, but that wasn’t good enough.  The rules had changed since the previous Olympic cycle, where a top 3 finish would qualify you for the mini-tournament in Philadelphia.  Now you had to win the regional.

So I headed to Iowa, trying desperately to keep my weight close enough to have a shot at making it back down.  It was a beastly cut through.  In that PA regional, I had become ill and continually got weaker as the tournament went on.

It didn’t seem to matter what I did – when I started to get close to that weight, it got very tough.  It was just a really hard cut.  This was 6 years after making 126 for the nationals, and I had grown bigger and stronger since then.

At the hotel room, I worked out, tried to hit the sauna, worked out more, until I had nothing left in the tank.  It had already been a significant amount of time since I’d had a decent meal.  Now, even drinking water seemed like it would sink me.

I was so dehydrated, any bit of water I put into my body, my body would soak it up like a dry sponge.

I remember the drive to the school and the weigh-in. I don’t know how many times my dad asked me if I was going to be alright.  I finally just said, “I don’t know.”

I shuffled to the weigh-in room, checked my weight.  Still 2 1/2 lbs over.

I went back out to work out.  Didn’t know how I was going to do that, being that I could barely stand up.

I made my way to the sauna room.  Sat in there for a few minutes – but my body couldn’t handle it.  My body temperature was already dangerously high – and I had stopped sweating.

I stepped out of the sauna, barely able to walk, or focus on the path ahead, like a zombie.  I realized at that point that I was probably as close to dying as I’d ever been in my life.  And I knew what I needed to do.

I went up to a water fountain – and I took a drink.

I went to my dad and started to apologize.  In tears, I told him, “I just can’t make it.”

I felt like I had let him down – which he told me I hadn’t.

So I weighed in for 136.5 – waaaay under.

I knew by the time we wrestled the next day, most of my opponents would weigh over 150 lbs..  And here I was, under 130 at weigh-in.

This episode was the last time I ever drastically cut weight.   I came out of Iowa feeling like I had cheated death, and it permanently altered my thinking on cutting weight.  

To this day, I discourage athletes from cutting weight, and instead, I offer them my weight management guide that I created using my decades of experience (including this one) to help them manage weight in a safe and healthy way.  I’ve also been very critical about the poor job that Ohio High School Athletic Association has done to protect kids from dangerous weight loss methods.  They give lip service to weight management while ignoring the issues that they themselves have caused, instead encouraging massive weight loss in short amounts of time

Its an issue I’ve talked about before in my emails and blogs, I’m sure I’ll revisit it every year around tournament time.