Thanksgiving is a time for people to slow down a bit and enjoy time with family around a big spread at the dinner table.
But for wrestlers, this week can be a challenge of mental and intestinal (actual) fortitude.
“There’s a little bit more time on your hands and with time and food, that’s not good for us,” Oklahoma State wrestling coach John Smith said Wednesday. “But we’ve worked out a little bit more than we have in the last several weeks and a lot of it is because we have the time and we’re out of school.
“So everything’s focused around not gaining any weight during Thanksgiving. There’s been a lot of good wrestlers make a lot of bad mistakes around Thanksgiving.”
Due to the pandemic last season, wrestling was postponed until January – which allowed for wrestlers to actually partake in the healthy helping of family meals around the holidays.
“I definitely ate a lot more last year than what I will this year. It was pretty nice,” sophomore starter Dustin Plott said.
Last year’s holidays were a little more enjoyable for Plott as well due to having all of his teeth.
It was back in March during the national tournament that he had his front two teeth dislodged when head butted by an opponent trying to come in on a double leg. He joked Wednesday that he’ll have to “take small bites.”
“It’s still a struggle,” said Plott, who has fake teeth to utilize if needed but rarely wears them. “I actually had an apple after weigh-ins last week … and was like, ‘Why’d I grab this?’”
Now it’s back to worrying about weight for wrestlers while watching people debate the best sides or main courses around Thanksgiving.
Plott, who starts at 174 pounds for the Cowboys and is roommates with heavyweights Luke Surber and Konner Doucet, said he’ll still enjoy the food that comes with Thanksgiving, but would not “eat the portion I would eat if I didn’t have to make weight.”
For one wrestler in particular, counting calories has already been an issue.
Redshirt senior Kaden Gfeller drew the ire of Smith for his performance in the season opener at Stanford. And according to the 149-pounder, food was partially to blame for the dud to start the season.
“That was just fully on my weight, not being responsible with my weight,” Gfeller said. “Our flight got delayed – and it’s not an excuse – but I showed up a little heavier than anticipated and I had to cut a lot of weight that last day.”
Gfeller responded this past weekend with with a 9-4 decision over Minnesota’s Michael Blockhus, who was ranked No. 26 at the weight. Gfeller was bolstered by a quick flurry of action, scoring six points in 30 seconds, but his coach was still looking to see a little bit more out of his senior throughout the entirety of the match.
“Wasn’t the ideal match I was hoping for,” Smith said. “… It was what we needed, but I still need to see some real consistency out of him from first period to second period, third period. He needs to convince me this is his best weight class.
“He can do that, but we’ll see through his wrestling because I really still like he’s not big enough for the weight, so I’d like to see him prove it to me and continue to prove it.”
The Cowboy has some extra motivation to maintain his weight heading into this weekend, as well.
Oklahoma State will host its only home dual of the fall semester with a 2 p.m. Sunday dual vs. Drexel.
It will be the first time the Cowboy wrestling will be able to get back in front of a more normal crowd inside Gallaher-Iba Arena – which will include floor seating near the mat once again – since the start of the pandemic.
And for Gfeller, who was a backup last year anyway, Sunday will be his first start in GIA since the Iowa dual at the end of the 2018-19 season.
“I’m really excited,” the Heritage Hall product said. “It should be a good crowd.”
But how does he get through Thanksgiving meals maintaining his weight before then?
“We have practice in the morning, so probably won’t eat too much,” Gfeller said. “I’ve been running a lot, shrinking my body up a little bit. … At 149, it shouldn’t be a problem, and I don’t think it will be from here on out.”
Cowboy Wrestling vs. Drexel
125 – No. 15 Trevor Mastrogiovanni vs. Antonio Mininno or Kyle Waterman
133 – No. 2 Daton Fix vs. Deon Pleasant or Jaxon Maroney
141 – Carter Young or Dusty Hone vs. Tyler Williams or Jared Donahue
149 – No. 24 Kaden Gfeller vs. Luke Nichter
157 – No. 16 Wyatt Sheets vs. No. 32 Parker Kropman or Michael Martinak
165 – No. 5 Travis Wittlake vs. Evan Barczak
174 – No. 16 Dustin Plott vs. No. 12 Mickey O’Malley
184 – No. 7 Dakota Geer vs. Bryan McLaughlin or Josh Stillings
197 – No. 1 A.J. Ferrari vs. Sean O’Malley
285 – No. 31 Luke Surber vs. Liam Dietrich
• Rankings based off InterMat Wrestling rankings