For most of us, the holiday season comes with an abundance of tempting foods, and treats and specialized goodies are a challenge, especially for anyone trying to lose weight.
That’s especially true for an athlete who has to make a strict weight in order to compete.
“You hope that your athletes will exercise some self-control, but it can be a real challenge,” University wrestling coach Don Owen said. “It’s understandable. We just tell our kids to try and take it easy, to graze – eat six small meals instead of a couple big ones. If they do eat too much, to get in an extra workout, an extra run.
“We give our kids a couple of days off, but you can’t go more than that without starting to lose some of your strength and stamina. You need to get back to it if you want to keep your edge.”
Wrestling coaches spend a good deal of time talking and working with their athletes on both nutrition and weight management. Both issues are critical to the sport and successful athletes not only master the techniques needed to deal with whatever an opponent does, but learn to fuel themselves properly in order to compete at an ideal weight.
“At the beginning of the season we hold a little seminar with the parents on nutrition, make sure they know what they need to know,” Owen said. “I think kids today know a lot more about nutrition than they used to.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a whole lot out there that’s new.
“I think at the end of the day, if you give your body good, healthy food it will manufacture everything it needs,” Owen said. “You can spend a whole lot of money on stuff and all you get for it is some very expensive urine.”
Wrestlers like heavyweight Tate Orndorff, who weighs in about 260 pounds and wrestles in a weight class that demands only that an athlete weighs under 275 pounds, are the exception.
Many will weigh a few pounds more than their wrestling weight and drop to make weight on the day of a match.
“It’s fluid weight that you’re losing to make weight,” Owen said. “Hopefully you’re not losing more than about 2 percent of your body weight, but some wrestlers will have to lose as much as 4 percent. It’s important to get as much of that fluid back into your body as soon as you can – especially when you have to get rid of that much to make weight.”
Last week, the Titans placed sixth at the prestigious Tri-State Tournament at North Idaho College – where it’s tougher to place than it is to place in your classification’s state tournament.
First, schools from all classifications compete at Tri-State, and top schools from four states come to NIC to compete.
“If you can compete well at Tri-State, it usually means you’ll be able to compete well at state,” Owen said.
For Orndorff, Tri-State was a significant coming-out party.
In February Orndorff’s older brother, Tanner, won the 195-pound Class 3A state championship, and in so doing put the finishing touches on U-Hi’s third state championship since 2005.
At Tri-State, Tate Orndorff captured the heavyweight championship.
“We haven’t had one of those in a while,” Owen said. “It was a little bit of a surprise because that’s a really good weight class he had there. He really did well. He dominated the heavyweight division and he’s still undefeated.
“I think this was the kind of a win that can catapult him forward and he can go on and dominate at state.”
Tate’s two older brothers wrestled and both had state tournament success.
“Tate is built just like his dad,” Owen said, referring to U-Hi assistant coach Dave Orndorff, an All-American heavyweight at Oregon State. “I’m so glad to have a kid like him in the wrestling room because he works so hard. And he’s going to be around for two more years because he’s still just a junior.”