Most athletes spend hours every week lifting weights and trying to bulk up. They exhaust every muscle in their body to try and be one of the strongest on the field or court, but that doesn’t always work for wrestlers.
Wrestling is a unique sport where the athletes need to cut weight, but still need to be strong. Competing in a sport that splits athletes up by weight class can often leave wrestlers stressed out. They are forced to do extra workouts on top of their practices in order to make weight for meets, but competing against someone your size allows athletes to dominate in their designated weight class. Ian Tolotti has been one of Springfield most consistent wrestlers, but he has to put in extra workouts to even compete.
In his sophomore year, Tolotti was one of the key components in the Pride placing third at the Doug Parker Invitational. The New Jersey native started the day with a 13-0 win before defeating two more wrestlers to bring him to the championship match. In his final face off Tolotti defeated a wrestler from East Stroudsburg 6-2 to get the Prides only individual title of the day.
“When he is in a stressful situation Ian has a really good way of keeping his composure. He can get scored on and be like ‘that’s fine, I’m going to find a way to score,’” said teammate Aarin Feliz.
Tolotti picked up wrestling at just six years old after his dad had him try out a variety of sports. Wrestling was the one that stuck. Before coming to Springfield to study sports biology, Tolotti left Dumont High School as the all time winningest wrestler.
In his freshman campaign he had a 27-12 record and led the team in major decisions wins with seven. Tolotti was one of 10 wrestlers to compete at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Northeast Regional Championship where he finished sixth overall in his weight class to end out his freshman season.
After having a dominant freshman year Tolotti came into this season ready to put in even more work.
“You can just tell he has more confidence,” said Feliz. “He is definitely a little more aggressive than he was in the past too and I think it’s just what everyone learns after their freshman year. He just has a better understanding of different positions and where he is and not making what we call freshman mistakes.”
Tolotti’s teammates have noticed that one of the things that makes him such a strong wrestler is the fact that he is so aware. He always seems to know where his opponent, and himself are on the mat.
Aside from having more experience, Tolotti has started to change the way he wrestles this year.
“I used to be very originated in getting on top and working on top to now being more diverse and being able to work from anywhere on the mat,” he said.
Like many other wrestlers on the team, Tolotti has to do extra workouts to make sure he is the proper weight. The extra workouts allow the athletes to eat balanced meals, but still stay in their weight class. These workouts, which are cardio based, can be anything from running on the treadmill to doing extra practices with teammates and coaches to help sharpen their technique.
“Knowing that you’re putting in the extra work and most people around you might not be, so knowing you have that little edge on people kind of helps mentally and physically,” said Tolotti. “I try and meet up with one of my coaches, one of my teammates at least twice a week getting in extra workouts.
Cutting weight can change athlete moods completely. Having to do extra workouts on top of practices can take its toll on anyone, but Tolotti never lets cutting weight change his personality.
“He won’t tell people how much it sucks, it sucks cutting weight for every single person.., but he does a very good job of knowing that’s on him and he doesn’t let that effect anything external,” said Feliz.
After all the stress of making sure he is the right weight to even compete Tolotti has to prepare for his match. Like most athletes he goes in with a plan, but these can often change during the match.
“You never really know what’s going to happen so you can go in with a game plan ‘this is what I want to execute, this is what I want to get done,’” he said. “But something can happen out of nowhere and you have to be able to adapt on the fly and be able to know exactly where you are and exactly where you want to be.”
While competing Tolotti alternates between wrestling in the moment, and thinking out his next move.
Feliz has noticed Tolotti’s quickness. “He’s the type of person to do work during practice and the coaches prepare us to do that, it’s called sequential wrestling, going from one move to another to another. Ian has just done that so much especially since he was a high school wrestler too, so it’s just second nature to him. He can just be doing something and he will react a lot quicker.”
Like most athletes, Tolotti has taken what he’s learned in his sport from his coaches and teammates and tried to apply to his life.
“He has a great mind set and anyone who knows him in or outside the sport, one of the most authentic people out there which is why even in our sport he won’t let things that he’s going through start to affect everyone else.”