Most sports have a fairly generic profile of the athletes that play them with regards to build and weight.
The same cannot be said for wrestling.
For boys, there are 14 different weight classes measuring from 106 pounds to 285 pounds.
For girls, there are 10 classes that measure from 100 pounds to 235 pounds.
For safety reasons, no one competes against someone in a different weight class.
“The big thing is you only wrestle people in your weight class unless we choose to move you up,” El Dorado co-head coach Jimmy Johnson said.
“If you wrestle in the 170-pound class, you have to wrestle in the 170-pound class or above. You cannot wrestle below because you’re too heavy, so you’re not going to wrestle somebody that is 260, 270 and you weigh 140.
“That’s just not going to happen. You wrestle people of the same build line. It’s so new here that they don’t realize that you only wrestle people in your same weight class. That’s a key thing. It’s the same thing with girls.”
In the lighter weight classes for boys, the difference between classes is between six to eight pounds, while it’s eight pounds for girls, but the difference gets further in the higher classes.
“You want to stay as close to the heaviest mark as you can in your weight class,” Johnson said.
“If I have somebody that’s not able to make the trip that’s a weight class above, but I have a JV person that’s in your weight class, I might be able to bump my varsity person up a weight class, but I can’t move him down. Now staying in your weight class is a problem.
“When I was coaching wrestling before, I had a kid hit a growth spurt. He grew two, almost three inches, and was trying to stay in the same weight class. It was hard to keep him in his weight class and he was always trying to cut weight. I don’t want to have to spend a whole lot of time cutting weight.
“Between diet and exercising, I want to keep you in the same spot, and then be able to do BMI’s (body mass index) and say, ‘OK, you have this much and if you lose it, this will probably be closer to where you are and this may be the weight class you want to wrestle in.’”
So what is a typical wrestling practice like?
“You can caught in some possibly dangerous situations, and you have to learn to be able to move your body,” said El Dorado co-head coach Cherokee Streetman. “The crazy thing is in wrestling, the more intense you are, the worse something can happen to you. If you wrestle loose, and that’s really what we emphasize, I just want to get loose, get my neck loose and my arms and legs loose. We’re always going to emphasize that type of warmup.
“I’ve always liked to start with some type of game. One of the games I like to play is called foot tag. It’s literally what it sounds like. You’re playing tag and you’re trying to get somebody’s foot. What that does is it teaches you how to react, how to move.
“One of the moves in wrestling is called a sprawl, where you shoot your hips and your feet back and you hit the mat on your stomach. It’s a defensive maneuver. It teaches the kids, ‘Hey, I got to get my feet back and not just try to run or dive over somebody.’
“After that, we’ll go into some type of fundamentals. I like to work different areas. One of the positions would be top, where your opponent is on the bottom and you’re doing some covering the opponent. The official may blow the whistle, and you’re working on some type of offensive maneuver. Then you can switch it, and that’s called bottom.
“You’re trying to be on the offensive side as a defender. There’s a lot of other fundamentals. It’s really just situational. You get put in a situation and we teach the athletes how to get out of those situations. It’s kind of like having a toolbox, and we just give them two to three tools for each position they’re in offensively and defensively. We teach them how to get out or finish whatever move they’re trying to complete.”
Streetman said the typical schedule would include events during the week and on the weekend.
“When I was in Little Rock, we had a conference that we wrestled in, but we would wrestle a dual during the week, and it’s just two or three teams that come together and just have individual wrestling matches,” Streetman said.
“Now the matches do get you points, and you can win the dual for team points, but the biggest thing about duals is it’s more for individual practice. It’s an individual thing that goes against your record. Then on the weekends, we would do tournaments. Tournaments are also for individual records, and you can win the individual tournament, but it’s also a team championship, so you can win the tournament.”
With El Dorado just beginning its program, there are several logistical hurdles that must be worked out.
“Obviously, the season wouldn’t start until late November or early December, and he and I both coach football, so it would be making sure of being able to get with them and talk to them and cover stuff,” Johnson said.
“Most of the people, including the girls, have other sports that they play, so hopefully we can keep them all interested. I think we will.”