January 24, 2014 Updated: January 24, 2014 at 11:46 pm
Junior Jess Hankin of Coronado and senior Adrian Mack of Discovery Canyon are not only two of the favorites after the first day at the Colorado Springs Metro Wrestling Championships, but they are two of the favorites to win their respective weight classes at the state tournament in about three weeks.
Sometimes though, you can hardly recognize them.
After football, Mack's weight usually drops noticeably in the month before wrestling season. His junior year, he lost 20 pounds before the season. This year, he lost 33 pounds in one month to reach 170 pounds, the fifth year he's wrestled at that weight.
Hankin, the defending Class 5A 113-pound state champion, meanwhile, moved up three weight classes to 132 pounds to start this season, before having to drop seven pounds in the past four days to wrestle at 126 pounds on Friday.
Despite the drastic weight change the past couple months, Hankin and Mack continued their phenomenal seasons with a pair of pins, as both wrestlers moved onto Saturday's quarterfinals.
"It's hard sometimes, but you train hard and try to lose or gain weight the healthiest way possible," said Hankin, who wrestled in his third weight class (113, 132 and 126) in nine months and pinned Pine Creek's Eric Hildenbrandt in 1 minute, 36 seconds. "I mean, for me, it's because I grew a lot and didn't want to have to cut 20 pounds all the time."
After opening the season at 132, Hankin wanted to drop down to 126 to have a better shot at winning his second state title in a row.
"I faced a lot of strong, strong kids in 132, and I think that will help me going forward in 126s," said Hankin, who had to drastically change his diet in the past couple of days to reach his desired weight, which was teammate Trent Watson's spot before he went out with a separated rib. "Like the kid today, (Apodaca), I kind of dominated the match with my strength."
Fifty-four pounds later, Mack showed no ill effects of his weight change this season either, and pinned Benjamin Cummings in an identical time of 1:36.
Mack also said his weight fluctuation helped him, not hurt him, during his now 17-0 season.
"I wanted to get bigger and bulkier for football, but stay quick and fast," said Mack, who was the starting fullback for run-oriented Discovery Canyon. "So when I lost 33 pounds in a month before wrestling season I felt that much faster on the mat. I feel unstoppable right now."
Hankin (ranked No. 3 in 126s by On The Mat) will go for his second consecutive Metro title Saturday, while Mack (No. 2 in 170s) will be going for his third consecutive title in 170s for Discovery Canyon, which is looking to defend its team title from last year.