The concept of weight classes in scholastic wrestling is something that may seem straightforward and self-explanatory. But there are many factors surrounding weight class distinctions and why someone finishes the season at a lighter weight than he/she started.

One of the reasons an individual will cut down to a lower weight is to be competing in a class they feel much bigger and stronger in. A wrestler may feel a competitive advantage facing lighter opponents later in the season after dropping down a weight class.

Another reason one will drop down to a lighter weight is simply because they are getting in shape as the season rolls along. As the season moves forward, an athlete will gradually come down to what is their natural competing weight right around the time the postseason arrives, thus placing them at a lower weight class than they started the season.

Lehighton coach Dan Williams cautions that dropping weight should be done safely, or else the results could be counterproductive.

"Sometimes, it can backfire if it is done the wrong way or is too extreme," Williams said. "No matter what weight you are at, it's more important to be fresh and have maximum energy to compete."

Tamaqua coach Jon Mashack also cautions against having wrestlers drop weight too quickly, suggesting that it should be done gradually to give them a better chance of maintaining that weight over a longer period of time.

"The wrestler should insure that he/she cuts weight gradually minimizing rebounding weight gain between weigh-ins and settles at the weight for a few weeks to get comfortable there minimizing any effects of dehydration versus body fat loss," Mashack said.

The effects of an athlete dropping weight too quickly could alter their performance both mentally and physically.

"Having a wrestler cut to their ideal weight too early may result in them having difficulty holding the weight class and over time wear on them both mentally and physically," Mashack said. "Weight loss held over a significant amount of time, I feel, depletes a wrestler's muscle mass, strength, and power."

Mashack also notes that lighter wrestlers may be more inclined to remain in a higher weight class more towards the end of the season for competitive reasons.

"Competitive post season wrestlers should seek out the best competition possible within their season schedule to best prepare for the post season," Mashack said. "To do that some wrestlers (especially lighter wrestlers) may have to stay up in weight until the final few weeks of the season."

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MOUNTIES WIN MVC … Stroudsburg (14-1, 6-0) captured its fourth Mountain Valley Conference title in five years after knocking off Pleasant Valley (14-8, 4-2) last week. The Bears were the defending league champions and ended Stroudsburg's three-year run last season.

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MILESTONE FOR PANTHERS … Panther Valley secured its first win in program history at District Duals this past weekend with a 37-33 win over local rival Palmerton. The win is another distinction for a program that has enjoyed a highly successful season and sits at 11-7 overall.

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TOURNEY TIME ... The preliminary round of the PIAA team wrestling championships kicks off tonight. The two District 11 teams in action tonight are Parkland and Saucon Valley, who will be taking on Wilson West Lawn and Hughesville, respectively. The tournament will conclude Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Giant Center in Hershey.