West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker


By Bill Welker, EdD

The Past . . .

As a young wrestler, I heard many stories about "making weight" and my legendary high school coach - Mal Paul's most important rule: "Thou shall make weight!"

The one account I will never forget involved Duane McKitrick, an outstanding wrestler for Coach Paul. He was undefeated and destined to win states as a junior. Duane was a couple pounds under weight for his weight class the Friday night before districts. But at district weigh-ins he was two pounds overweight. Thus, Duane was ineligible to wrestle in the event.

Coach Paul was furious and denied Duane McKitrick his varsity letter. Duane did not come out for wrestling his senior year.

Though Coach Paul's treatment of Duane McKitrick may seem too harsh in today's society, you must understand that not making weight for any meet was taboo back then - and we all knew it. And unlike many coaches, who penalize team members of lesser ability to make a point, Coach Paul's rules pertained to everyone, including the best wrestler on the team - Duane McKitrick. And it was Duane who chose not to participate his senior year to redeem himself.

I almost shared the same fate as Duane did my sophomore year. Wrestling at 95 and 103 that season, I finished the regular schedule with a 15-1-1 record. I planned to compete at 95 pounds in the sectional tourney. I had one weakness; I liked to eat and came into practice that Monday before the competition well over weight.

Since I only had four days of practice before Friday night's sectionals, Coach Paul bluntly suggested that I move up to 103. I quickly responded, "No, coach, I'll make weight. I can win states at 95. I promise I'll be down by Friday."

"You better be!" responded my irritated coach. I was well aware of the consequences if I didn't make weight.

On Friday night, I qualified for the 95-pound weight class at the sectional championships. As a matter of fact, I was two pounds under weight!

Coach Paul was impressed.

The Present . . .

Today, our coaches, wrestlers, and parents are much, much more informed

regarding proper and safe adolescent weight management. No longer can a wrestler lose excessive weight. The new National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) rules include assessing a participant's weight at the beginning of the season, determining his or her minimum weight class and how much a wrestler should lose on a weekly basis.

When I competed in the mat sport, there were no rules in reference to losing weight. Oh, we were told to eat salads, poached eggs, grilled chicken, and fruits; but that was the extend of our weight management program. Of course, many of us back then resorted to Ex-Lax, purging and other unsavory diet techniques. We didn't know any better.

Thank goodness such is not the case today. Wrestlers no longer are asked or allowed to diet in an extreme manner. Thus, contemporary wrestlers should not have to worry about making weight for dual meets and tournaments.

The rule . . .

I have been a state wrestling rules interpreter for over 25 years and stand steadfast by the following NFHS ruling:
Rule 4 - Section 5 - Article 8: "Any contestant failing to make weight during the weigh-in period shall be ineligible for that weight class."
In my capacity as rules interpreter, I have had to declare numerous wrestlers ineligible for being overweight - be it a regular season dual meet or the state championships.

Although I have been called many unbecoming and demeaning names over the years for such decisions, I feel no remorse fulfilling my duties as dictated by the rules.

The NFHS does not accept any excuses for being overweight, including sickness. To allow someone who is overweight to compete would be totally unfair to all the other wrestlers who made weight.

Making weight is a MUST in wrestling. It has been a part of the "wrestling culture" since the beginning of mat sport weigh-ins, and there are absolutely NO exceptions!

Mat Message
"If 'ifs and buts' were candy and nuts, we'd have Christmas every day!"
- Anonymous

Editor's Note: A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has published hundreds of articles and two best-selling books (The Wrestling Drill Book, 1st & 2nd Editions) on the subject in which 1000s of copies have been sold nationwide. His drill book can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.HumanKinetics.com.

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