Mashed potatoes in moderation: How wrestlers do Thanksgiving


(Photo: Jessie Gronke/The Simpsonian)

by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

You would think the sport where people need to maintain a certain weight and the holiday known for eating would conflict. You would be correct.

Over Thanksgiving break, some students may have five or six Thanksgiving dinners, depending on the size and tradition of the family. Contrary to popular belief, wrestlers are able to eat.

“I expect my guys to not put themselves behind as far as their weight,” head coach Nate Hansen said. “I hope they come back from break nice and refreshed from being off the mat, but I don’t want anyone to be behind as far as weight goes.”

Hansen had a half-joking strategy for the wrestlers, saying to drink a gallon of water every day. You fill a gallon jug with water every day and then the goal is to drink it. So if you eat a good-sized piece of turkey, you drink a tall glass of water to fill your stomach and make you feel more full. Then eat some potatoes and drink more water. Hansen said a Thanksgiving tradition is to run a 4-mile loop, and if your weight is OK after that, you can have a small piece of pumpkin pie.

“I’d probably try to do what Nate said, but maybe not run 4 miles, maybe just get a nice little workout in and make myself feel good. I don’t want to feel guilty about what I ate,” senior Jake Mize said.

Hansen had some charts handy detailing strategies for cutting weight in general, a formula to show someone how to cut down to their target weight safely, and how the body should be fueled while losing weight. One of the charts says the target weight for a wrestler is roughly 5 percent of the weight at which they will wrestle over the weight they will wrestler. For example, someone wrestling at 125 pounds wants to weigh around 131 pounds and they can cut down before a meet.

“If you’re a wrestler, you don’t get to have a normal Thanksgiving while you’re in college, if you do it right,” Hansen said. ”Then there’s the rest of your life for a normal Thanksgiving meal experience. It’s very much like how, if you’re serious at competing at the highest level, your college experience as far as drinking and going out is different if you’re going to be the best you can be.”

Hansen wants his wrestlers to use Thanksgiving break as a time to keep building and improving themselves.

Wrestlers will be in action Dec. 1 in Augustana, Illinois, which should be enough time to shed any turkey weight they may have gained.