Eph All-Americans Since 1973
* First freshman All-American
** First Four-Time All-American
Losing to Win -- Jon Dolan '07
|Jon Dolan '07|
It's easy to lose weight — just turn on your television and you'll be bombarded with ads for surefire products that will take off the pounds in a hurry. Most people who diet will tell you the trick though is to keep the weight off.
Losing weight and keeping it off is all well and good, but just doing that won't work for the Ephs' Jon Dolan. Dolan, a starting linebacker for the Ephs last fall and a captain-elect for 2006, plays football at one weight and then drops his weight to be nationally competitive in wrestling in the very next season on the calendar.
Dolan, an All-American at 165 (seventh place) last year, claims that it is not difficult for him to lose weight, but the key for Dolan is to maintain his strength while taking off the pounds.
Dolan loves to compete, so losing to win would not seem to fit his personality and yet that is exactly what the two-sport standout has done for eight consecutive years. Through four years at Lowell [MA] High School, a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy and for three years at Williams, Dolan has fought the battle to lose weight and maintain strength. You don't get voted a co-captain of the wrestling team as a junior if you don't love to compete.
Football is a demanding sport that punishes the body and following it up with another sport that may be the most demanding sport in college athletics is a tough task. Football ends on the second Saturday in November every year at Williams and wrestling practice begins November 1st. So Dolan is a good three weeks behind most of his teammates when he finally gets on the mat, as are four other Ephs who double up in football and wrestling. He is also five weeks behind the rest of the Div. 3 wrestlers who do not compete in football because they can begin practice on October 15th.
Dolan takes almost 48 hours off between seasons. "I usually have that Sunday [after the Amherst game] and Monday to myself and then I start running and working out outside the wrestling room with the other football/wrestlers," said Dolan. "I usually don't get into the actual wrestling room until a week after the football season."
Dolan reported to football practice in August weighing just under 195. "Throughout the football season I usually drop about 7-10 pounds and once November first comes I start working on getting my weight down so I know I will be on target for my weight for wrestling in January."
For Dolan to compete at the levels he desires he has to walk a fine line between being a tad on the small side for his position in football and being as strong as he can at his best weight in wrestling.
|Dolan vs. Amherst in '06|
"I would categorize Jon as a classic 'tweener'," said Eph linebacker coach George McCormack. "He could be classified as a bigger safety or a smaller LB as far as his weight is concerned. As far as his play is concerned, he is very instinctual and is a good tackler. His greatest strengths in football are quickness, intensity and toughness, which help him overcome any weight disadvantage he may face from the opposition. Offensive linemen are routinely in the high 200's or low 300's as far as weight is concerned, and if you let them get into you it's not a pretty sight. "Jon has done an excellent job of either beating their blocks or staying low and shocking them with his hands or shoulders to give himself the separation necessary to make the play."
Compounding the task to lose weight and maintain strength is the fact that the Williams academic calendar is not very forgiving. Less than four weeks after football ends and right at the beginning of the competitive wrestling season final exams arrive to complete the fall semester.
"It is both mentally and physically tough to lose the weight," said Dolan. "Physically the weight fluctuation can be harsh. It is mentally tough especially at a school like Williams because balancing academics and athletics is not easy. Usually after a season you will get some time to catch up on work but when you have back-to-back seasons you don't get that opportunity and you really have to stay on top of things. Wrestling is also a very mentally draining sport along with being physically demanding. A lot of wrestlers will tell you that wrestling is 50 percent mental. From experience I would definitely say this is true. As a wrestler you build expectations for yourself and it is often mentally draining living up to these expectations. Staying mentally tough is a key aspect of the sport of wrestling."
The NCAA has strict guidelines about athletes losing weight to compete in wrestling, all geared to the safety of the athlete. "The NCAA calculates body weight, body fat and hydration levels and puts them into a formula that tells you how much weight you are allowed to lose," Dolan said. "Once they determine your minimum weight you are allowed to lose no more than 2 pounds a week."
Last winter Dolan competed at 165 and won the New England title, earning a berth in the NCAA Championships. He finished seventh at the NCAAs and earned All-America honors. This season Dolan will be competing at 174.
Under NCAA rules Dolan needs to be down to his competition weight by January 18th and he cannot lose more than two pounds a week. That leaves 10 weeks to lose 12-14 pounds, maintain strength and keep up with the studies to prepare for the final exams of the fall semester.
Dolan at 2005 NCAA Championship
After exams there are no academic demands until January, but that still means you have to make it through the holiday season in December and New Year's when most families have plenty of food around for celebrating. Assuming, of course, you did not gorge yourself over Thanksgiving break. For Dolan the answer is to stay active and eat healthy. "I jog a lot!, " he said. "It's not all that bad. I just try not to do what everyone else does.... stuff myself all in one sitting. I just eat healthy meals and in moderation."
"Since I started cutting weight it has become a little easier each year," Dolan claims. "Well maybe not easier but as the years pass I have learn how to do it more efficiently and in a healthier manner."
Back in high school Dolan tried some of the products advertised on TV as quick weight loss products and found that while he could lose weight quickly it did not really help, because he could not maintain his strength. "I remember trying things like low carb diets, high protein diets and even diet pills. As time goes on I have come to learn that none of these things work that efficiently. They worked for a quick 10 or 15 pounds but did not help me retain the energy and strength levels I needed to compete in wrestling.
|Dolan at 2005 NCAA Championships|
"Basically what I have figured out is that the best way to go about it is to just eat balanced meals with smaller portions. Between the vigorous workouts and the reduction in caloric intake I'm usually able to make it down to my desired weight while remaining healthy and strong."
Former Olympic gold medal wrestler Kendall Cross gave Dolan a weight loss trick that he now fully subscribes to. "I eat five meals a day," Dolan says. "The trick is to split your three meals up into five small meals. By doing this you can keep your metabolism going and burn a greater amount of fat."
"Losing weight is not exactly a competition in itself but it is definitely a large part of competing in the sport of wrestling right after you've completed a football season," said Dolan. Wrestling is a one on one sport and that is why it is so competitive. Wrestlers go to great lengths just to get the slightest advantage over their opponents and if it means losing 5 or 10 more pounds then any wrestler with a passion for winning will make the sacrifice."
Eating a balanced diet for Dolan means eating the kinds of foods that will help his body be at it's best. " I avoid all junk food, said Dolan. "Once you start to eat healthy for a long period of time you have no desire to pollute your body with useless sugars and fats. Most of my meals consist of a good lean source of protein, some carbohydrates to replenish my muscles, and some fruits or veggies."
Throughout the football and wrestling seasons Dolan is also very mindful of what he drinks as well and he keeps his liquid intake simple. "I avoid soda and I consume mostly water and some Gatorade after practice or a match."
Every Wednesday throughout the wrestling season Eph head coach Raf Vega weighs his athletes to keep track of possible weight variances that could indicate potential problems. Wrestlers typically lose a lot of water weight in a single workout and sometimes those losses are not replace properly and problems can sneak up on a wrestler. "Jon is very strict with himself on his eating and conditioning and he is always on top of his weight," said Vega.
Dolan is off to a 3-0 start this season at 174 and is ranked No. 1 in New England, but his progress on the mat was curtailed one week due to an injury, so he is not expected to be a full strength for another week or so. No one at Williams doubts that Dolan will be ready to put his best efforts forward at the New England Championships Feb. 18 –19 in his quest to earn a berth in the NCAA Div. 3 championships for a second year in a row.
Vega said he expects that when Dolan gets over his current slight injury he will again be a force to be reckoned with in New England and nationally at 174. "He's an all-around wrestler: good on his feet, has great takedowns which he always capitalizes on and is an excellent rider with a lot of pinning combinations," said Vega. "He has all the tools to be an All-American at 174."
Those who know Jon Dolan know that he is not 'losing to win' just to get on the mat – his goal is to compete and to win.