As the wrestling season approaches, two All-Americans are facing a new challenge as they prepare to wrestle at heavier weights.
Coming off successful seasons last year, junior Ed Ruth will move up a weight class from 174 to 184 while senior Quentin Wright will move from 184 to 197.
Ruth enters the season on a 35-match winning streak as the junior went 31-0 last year, winning the 174-pound title over Nick Amuchastegi from Stanford.
Ruth said that he's anticipating going up a weight class because it will be less stressful on his body.
“I'm actually looking forward to not have to cut as much,” Ruth said. “When you go up a weight class, your body is more willing to just let go of that water weight. When you go down, your body just holds on to every little piece of water that you have in your body. It's so hard just to get that last couple of ounces off, especially when you're coming in right before the match.”
Even with the adjustment, Ruth comes into the season ranked No. 1 at 184.
The junior made his debut in his new weight class during last Thursday's Intrasquad Dual, facing 174 pound freshman Wes Phipps and beating him by technical fall, 21-4, in 5:59. Ruth had no problems, registering takedowns and looking comfortable in his new weight class.
“I'd rather have it that the guys that I wrestle against have to adjust to me rather than having me adjust to them,” Ruth said.
Ruth earned a wildcard bid to compete in the Olympic trials last April, which coach Cael Sanderson said helped motivate the junior for the upcoming season.
“He's the guy the more you hold him back, the more he wants to get out there and get after it,” Sanderson said.
Wright is the defending national runner-up at 184 and is looking to become a four-time All-American and national champion for the second time.
After getting comfortable with facing opponents at 184, Wright will enter the season ranked No. 2 at 197, looking to adjust to new wrestlers and facing different styles in the heavier weight class.
“Any time you're wrestling different opponents you always have the unknown,” Wright said. “So moving up a weight class, it's a good starting point to get out there for the rest of the season and gauge the things you need to work on.”
The senior got a look at his new weight class at the U.S Marines Corp All-Star Classic last Saturday, facing No. 3 Matt Wilps of Pittsburgh. Wright was in a back-and-forth contest before eventually losing the match on a pin at 6:50.
For the All-American, the adjustment is all about attitude.
“I got to stay the same where my attitude is to go out there and push the pace, make guys wrestle,” Wright said. “These guys are going to be a little bit bigger and a little bit slower, but still, I got to wrestle my match.”