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High School Sports

Area wrestlers grapple with holiday hunger

| Friday, Dec. 30, 2011

Bud Sines has a unique term to describe post-holiday wrestling practice.

"We call it making 'em sweat the gravy out," Burrell's first-year wrestling coach said. "You always see a handful of kids who gained some weight over the holidays. You can see it in their cheeks, and some of their eyes get a little puffy. So, we get all that out of their blood streams."

The holiday break can tempt even the most disciplined wrestler. Big meals, soft drinks and the biggest culprit — sweets — loom as the most tempting threats to maintaining weight over Christmas and New Year's. Grapplers have embraced a more disciplined approach over the years, but sudden weight gains still pose a problem for coaches.

"The big thing is Christmas cookies. They'll say, 'But coach, it doesn't weigh that much!'" Valley coach Steve Ansani said. "But they don't even realize, especially the newer kids, when they eat a bunch of cookies why they come in five pounds over."

So, what else is specifically off limits?

"Basically all junk food," Ansani said. "Soda pop is real big (to avoid). I know it's a hard thing, but that's part of the sport. We let them eat, we tell them to be smart about it and just don't gorge yourself."

Most area teams are competing in holiday tournaments. And with Christmas and New Year's Day falling on Sundays this year, grapplers get at least two weekday practices to sweat away any extra intake.

"The Christmas tournaments have always been a pretty big deal, and kids have become more conscious of what not to eat over the years," said Sines, whose Bucs are in the prestigious Powerade Tournament at Canon-McMillan. "We had practice both the day before Christmas and the day after, so it's how much damage can you do in one day?"

Highlands rookie coach Logan Downes said inactivity being the biggest distraction in late December.

"I remember one kid didn't show up to practice over Christmas break, so we went to go get him," Downes said. "We drove to his house and basically pulled him out of bed. We brought him there and he was running sprints. He ended up throwing up orange juice all over the gym."

While coaching in Brookfield, Wisc., Sines made his team corral a pair of brothers who were skipping practice to go shopping.

"They were at a mall about six miles up the road. I guess they wanted to check out all the after-Christmas sales," Sines said. "All the kids got on their cell phones and kept calling them. They were told everyone would continue to run until they got there. They showed up about 20 minutes later."

Sometimes, the most difficult adjustments after a holiday are more mental than physical.

"The kids came in (Monday) in pretty good spirits. The big topic wasn't what you were eating, but what you got for Christmas," Sines said. "There were more Christmas stories than wrestling stories, but they'll get focused in no time."

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