How Do Wrestlers Celebrate Thanksgiving?

As Thanksgiving approaches, some people might opt to wear stretchable pants in preparation for the biggest and best meal of the year. Others might choose to run a 5K the day off as justification for everything they are about to consume.

But for wrestlers, who often already deal with strict in-season diets and must make their weights just days after the holiday, turning a blind eye to the scale isn’t as easy or consequence-free as it is for the rest of us. Their ability to enjoy Thanksgiving hinges on where their natural weight falls in relation to their weight classes’ cutoff.

However, Turkey Day can still bring a much-needed break from the normal routine of a student-athlete — especially if it includes a rare trip home.

After Penn State wrestling’s dual against Arizona State this weekend, the team went its separate ways home. Roman Bravo-Young, who is from the Grand Canyon State and made his homecoming to the tune of a 7-6 decision, stayed out there for the week. He approached the dual with a pretty laid-back mindset, saying the part of the trip he was most excited for was sleeping in his own bed and eating food he can’t normally get in Happy Valley.

“I’m going to eat a lot and enjoy the food over there, because the food back in Arizona is a lot better than on the East Coast, but I’ll work out hard and just do it,” he said. “I don’t cut a lot of weight, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Bravo-Young, who lives in Tucson about an hour from the Mexican border, said his family’s Thanksgiving consists of plenty of local favorites like posole and tamales, which will be a welcome change from the commercialized Mexican food scene in State College.

“There’s no good Mexican food out here,” he said. “[Turkey] is alright. I’d rather go the full-Mexican style.”

Not every wrestler leaves town. Those who stick around in State College are invited to head coach Cael Sanderson’s own Thanksgiving dinner at his home.

“A lot of them will go home with a PA kid or someone who’s in driving distance,” Sanderson said. “But it’s important to make sure these kids aren’t sitting in the dorms over Thanksgiving break — although they’d probably be fine with that, playing video games.”

Vincenzo Joseph is going home to Pittsburgh for the week — something he hasn’t been able to do in years past. He’s also bringing Nick Lee along with him to “see the ‘burgh” and for an Italian Thanksgiving — that unfortunately, only one of them will be able to enjoy.

“I can’t partake in the Italian part. I need to watch those carbs and keep that weight down,” Joseph said. “[Nick] isn’t really concerned about keeping his weight down. He gets pretty light.”

Not much seems to have changed with Joseph since last year when the Big Ten Network asked him what his favorite Thanksgiving dish is. Joseph said his answer would get him trouble due to the “clean diet” he was on, before eventually slyly offering up turkey since it’s one of the only things he’s able to have.

Although the realities of making weight exist for many wrestlers, they don’t ruin the holiday for all. Just take a look at how many wrestlers professed their loves to mashed potatoes in the same interview:

Unsurprisingly, the ever-quotable Shakur Rasheed had some takes about Thanksgiving. In the video, he explained two keys to a great Thanksgiving meal are 1) turkey dipped in both mashed potatoes and mac and cheese and 2) pecan pie with vanilla-bean (read: not vanilla) ice cream.

Like most things in life, do it like Shak and you’ll be in for a good time.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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