Winter sports spotlight: WHS wrestling

Images provided by author. Top: Wrestling meet at Washington.

“In wrestling, the only person that decides if you win or lose is you,” shares wrestling team captain Walker Sakaki. After school on any given day, you can find our WHS Wrestling team hard at work in the aux gym during one of their grueling three hour practices. Each partnered with a teammate, the wrestlers tirelessly refine their skills and learn new maneuvers from their coach, Math teacher Mr. Bowls. Our Husky athletes are currently ranked second in the league after only losing two matches, to Logan and Kennedy, thus far this season.

So, how does high school wrestling work? As Walker mentioned, athletes compete on an individual basis divided by weight classes. Ranging from 106 to 285 pounds, there is one WHS wrestler for every 10 pound range that matches with their corresponding opponent on the other team. The goal is to pin your opponent on their back and hold them in that position for three seconds until the referee declares the winner. Winning on an individual basis contributes to the team’s success, as each wrestler’s outcome tallies towards the overall team score to win the match.

If a wrestler is above their weight class they aren’t allowed to compete, and this rule leads to some rather extreme tactics of quick weight loss. Walker explains his method as follows: “I eat whatever I want normally, and a few days before I compete I don’t eat that much. The day before I try to stop drinking and eating.” A fellow wrestler, Edrees Najmudin, explains, “I just make my room into a sauna, turn the heater on, wear tons of clothes, get two blankets on, and sweat it out.” After weighing in, wrestlers scramble to rehydrate and refuel. In the one to two hours between weigh-ins and hitting the mat, wrestlers will eat foods like peanut butter and honey while drinking electrolytes. Unfortunately, these quick weight-loss methods can cause serious dehydration and exhaustion, both of which are detrimental to teenagers’ mental and physical development. To an outsider these approaches don’t seem healthy, but when asked if they thought wrestling weight culture was toxic, Walker and Edrees agreed that it was simply necessary. The two explained that cutting weight is a choice that each wrestler gets to make on their own. If they are asked by their coach to change weight classes and cut weight, but they are uncomfortable doing so, it isn’t mandatory in any way. The Hatchet has reached out to Mr. Bowls for comment on weight cutting, but has not received a response.

Wrestling may be a niche sport, but the WHS team is open to newcomers, wrestling experts, and everyone in between. “When I first joined, I was terrible,” Walker jokes, but throughout his four years, he has found a family in the wrestling team.  The benefits of wrestling extend to the classroom as well. Edrees explains how wrestling has improved his own work ethic, and shares that, “You can’t expect to do nothing and get better, because there are other people working just as hard as you at this very second.” With hard work and dedication, Husky Wrestling has rocketed towards a successful season that will finish up early February. Keep an eye out for tryouts next year to join this inspiring group of athletes!

Ava Paine is a current senior at Washington High School; this is her first year at The Hatchet. Born and raised in Fremont, she is interested in reviewing local restaurants and books. Ava is varsity captain of the girls tennis team, participates in varsity cheerleading, and is president of WHS Interact and WHS Model UN. In her free time she loves to bake, take care of her houseplants, play with her labrador retriever, read, and listen to Taylor Swift. In the future, she hopes to study international relations or law.

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