Scott sheds weight safely for nationalsTiara Scott, a sophomore at Evanston Township High School, worked out at the ETHS Summer Wrestling Camp at the school Wednesday. Scott, a runner up at national's last summer, is training for another run at the junior national's. Tiara Scott, a sophomore at Evanston High School, does a duck walk down the mats. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 4, 2011 12:14PM
Evanston’s Tiaira Scott most impressive accomplishment of last month’s Women’s Junior Freestyle National Championships came before she even stepped on a mat.
She finished fourth in the junior/senior division in Fargo, N.D. (July 15-23).
Before then, the rising junior cut almost 13 pounds in three days in order to become eligible to compete.
Scott finished second last year in the 220-pound weight class, but U.S.A. Wrestling decided to eliminate that class this year. However, the news never reached Scott or any of her coaches.
Instead, Scott showed up in Fargo weighing 210 pounds and expected to compete in both the frosh/soph and junior/senior divisions.
It was just then that Scott got the news: 198 pounds was now the highest weight class.
“That was devastating,” said Scott, who had been preparing all summer for the competition. “I was pretty mad too.”
While she could not compete in that day’s frosh/soph division, she did have three days before the junior/senior division began.
Scott called her coach, Rudy Salinas, back in Chicago for advice.
“He said it was up to me. I could try to cut 13 pounds or I could just come home,” Scott said. “I didn’t want to stay there and do nothing. I had gone all the way up there and I wanted to wrestle.”
What followed may have been the most intense 72 hours of Scott’s life. She participated in three tough practices per day wearing garbage bags over her clothing in order to sweat off weight. Her diet consisted of foods such as carrots, grapes and protein bars. She drank plenty of water, rejecting unhealthy dehydration and starvation methods of weight loss used by some wrestlers.
Scott, her coaches and trainers monitored her progress after each workout.
Three days later, Scott weighed in at 197.4 pounds. She was eligible to compete.
“It was pretty miraculous what took place. She really did an honorable job by us,” said Salinas, who coaches Scott on the Evanston boys wrestling team. “I believe it’s a true testament to her competitive spirit.
“To change her body like that and still be competitive for her team (Team Illinois), her state and herself, it speaks volumes about where she’s going to go in the near future.”
After an omelet to help give her some energy, Scott opened against an opponent from California and won. She then lost by a narrow decision to a wrestler from Texas before falling to a wrestler from Hawaii in the third-place match.
Scott said she was disappointed by her finish, even though she earned All-American status.
“I was happy that I made it and it felt good to accomplish something,” Scott said. “And it was good to know I could eat what I wanted.”
But in addition to dealing with the rapid weight loss, she also was wrestling older competitors, who were lighter and quicker.
“It was an adjustment for her,” Salinas said. “In the heat of battle, she felt a lack of what she was used to. That reserve (of energy) was not there. She couldn’t go to the tank to hit a power move. She couldn’t rely on that.”
But Scott likely learned a lot about herself and her ability to respond to adversity.
She also got a taste of wrestling at a lower weight class, something she was planning to do anyway. The IHSA is implementing a new 196-pound division this year, and Scott is expected to compete at that weight. Also, the highest weight in collegiate women’s wrestling is 198 pounds.
“I was pretty upset (by the fourth-place finish). But this should help me do better next year,” Scott said. “Now, I know what to expect.”