I Wrestled In High School, But I was Not A Wrestler
Part I: Making Weight
In high school, I wrestled. I was on the team, I wrestled, but I wasn’t a wrestler. I was on the team because the football coach was also the wrestling coach and he told me to be on the team. I hated wrestling, but it did give me some good stories.
See: “Bridge Tommy Bridge”
Not great stories, but good ones, and here is another.
As I said, I wrestled but I was not a wrestler. Wrestlers are a different breed. They are Spartans. They live to train and work and sacrifice and win with all their heart and soul. I did most of those things, but my heart was never in it.
In my junior year I wrestled on the JV team, not Varsity. I weighed all of 174 pounds, but because we had a better 177 pound wrestler than I and we had no heavy weight, I often wrestled at the heavy weight class.
The day before one match, the coach came up to me and told me to lose seven pounds, “I want you to wrestle 167 varsity tomorrow, Earle Vigne is sick.”
I practiced that day with extra sweats to shed water and make weight. I worked extra after practice. At home I skipped dinner. Some water, a carrot and some celery was dinner. The next morning I had orange juice for breakfast and skipped lunch. Instead of a study hall, I hit the gym for an hour before we had to weigh in for that afternoons match. I sweated some more, and spit in a towel till I could spit no more. I weighed in at exactly 167 pounds. I lost seven pounds, mostly water, in one day! That kind of weight loss was not unusual in the sport. Some wrestlers did it for every match. I wrestled, I was not a wrestler.
I made weight, but I had no strength. Weak and wrestling for Varsity for the first time, I figured I would lose. My job was to not get pinned and thus save the team a couple of points.
Twenty minutes before the match the coach came up to me. “Vigne is feeling better; you’re back to JV…heavyweight."
Damn, I lost seven pounds, was weak as hell, and now I had to wrestle heavy weight!
When a match begins, each team marches in and takes a seat in the order of their weight class. You can look across the mat and see who your opponent is. My opponent was a brick. Six foot 225 to my five-ten 170. He was a tiny head, with two tree stump legs all attached to a chest…a giant barrel chest…the biggest chest I’d ever seen. The coach came down the line to my chair and with a big smile said, “See your man? Good luck!” He laughed and went back to the varsity bench.
Tomorrow Part II: The Chest