From offensive lineman to heavyweight wrestler in 15 weeks
The date was Oct. 8, and Granite Bay High School was preparing to play a huge Sierra Foothill League football game against Nevada Union in Grass Valley.
Gavin Andrews, the biggest young man on the football field more often than not, weighed a season-high 340 pounds when he put on his Grizzlies uniform that evening.
Today – 103 days later – the junior hopes the scale reads no more than 287 when he weighs in for tonight’s SFL dual meet at Rocklin.
Granite Bay hoped he would debut last Wednesday at Roseville, but Andrews weighed 290. As of Saturday, a two-pound allowance was added to each weight class, so the heavyweight maximum has increased to 287.
“I will be ready for next Wednesday,” the junior said a week ago today. “After the 15th, I have three more pounds to go.”
Teammates and fans of Granite Bay wrestling sure hope so. Andrews finished fifth at the State Meet last season and won the Coaches National Tournament for sophomores in Virginia Beach.
Giving new meaning to the irritating kiddy question, “Are we there yet?” Andrews was ready to be there long ago. The journey to 287 has been a lengthy, tough grind.
“It hasn’t been fun, and everyone’s telling you, ‘You can’t, it won’t happen,’” said Andrews, who spends a portion of his time at matches doing what all wrestlers do – somersaults on the mat, cozying up with his teammates, wrestling with them – even the little ones.
But Andrews had to come back. He understands this could be his last season of wrestling “because I might not be able to cut it next year.” He wants to return to the State Meet “and see how far I can go; maybe go back to Virginia Beach for nationals again. That would be really exciting.”
Unlike watching Andrews at work on the mat – and the Grizzlies as a whole, for that matter – losing weight doesn’t draw a crowd. But Granite Bay coach Shane Dixon has ridden shotgun next to Andrews the entire way, helping monitor Andrews’ steady diet and workout regimen.
Years ago, the sport drew negative press with stories of wrestlers starving themselves silly, vomiting, suffering nosebleeds, anything to lose weight. That’s not the case at Granite Bay, according to Dixon.
“There’s no need for it,” Dixon said during the 14th annual Mike Lynch Invitational on Dec. 29 at Granite Bay. Andrews weighed around 305 at that time. “He can get there healthily, and we have guys that can wrestle for him till he makes it. He’s sad because he wants to be wrestling right now, but he’ll get there when he gets there.”
That was three weeks ago. Andrews’ diet, before and since, has consisted of almonds, steamed vegetables, chicken – lean proteins – and a lot of water.
“Gotta stay hydrated,” said Andrews, who speaks with a wry smile and a gleam in his eyes.
All those boring – but healthy – foods replaced all the goodies teenagers just can’t get enough of, including 6-6, 340-pound offensive linemen in season. For Andrews, it’s milk – cold, wholesome, tasty milk.
“I love to drink milk,” Andrews said.
“No more cow for you,” Dixon recalls Andrews being told.
Pasta was taken off the menu, as was the chicken and ranch from Subway (foot-long, of course). No more Bullets and Torpedoes from Quizno’s.
Andrews also rides 10 miles daily on stationary bikes at home and school, and he has added running to the workout.
“During football, he can eat whatever he wants whenever he wants. Here, what goes in your body needs to be good for you,” Dixon said. “We’re not telling you don’t eat. We’re saying, ‘You’re going to eat, but you’re going to eat the right things.’”
Andrews also has spent considerable time on the mat during practice.
“We’ve brought other guys in to tangle with him. I’ve tangled with him a little bit – just anything to keep him moving,” Dixon said. “As long as he’s moving, he’s burning.”
People have noticed the difference, and Andrews feels the difference.
“I’ve lost all my body fat, so I’m really cold easily,” he said. “It’s actually pretty nice because everyone’s noticing: ‘You’ve slimmed down. You look better.’ It’s quite comforting to know I’m not just killing myself for no reason.”
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org.