Thanksgiving is a rough time for most wrestlers. They learn the definition of hunger "pangs" while they develop mental toughness and maintain their weight.
Last season, Scott Pitrowski, the senior heavyweight at Calumet College, had to watch the rolls, shrimp and steak float past his nose at the team’s Thanksgiving feast.
This season he can indulge. It’s one of many benefits of losing 71 pounds.
The 6-foot-5 Lowell grad began last season weighing 307 pounds, 22 more than the maximum allowed for heavyweight.
By midseason, he was walking around at 289 pounds on average and usually had to endure a 24-hour fast before big meets to get under 285.
“The skinny guys will laugh at me and say to stop crying, but that one day of not being able to eat or drink still sucks for a heavyweight,” Pitrowski said.
This fall he came back to school a svelte 236.
He skipped pizza, buffets and pizza buffets. Tuna and chicken were his staples, along with a few extra fruits and vegetables. Lifting five days a week and wrestling three to five times weekly helped the weight melt off.
“I love the sport and love how tough it is,” said Pitrowski, who made the ticket round at semistate both his junior and senior seasons at Lowell. “Not everyone can do it, and that’s what pushes me to want to do better at it. I like winning.”
Pitrowski, who originally signed up to play football at Manchester but dropped out two days before his freshman year, has been with the Crimson Wave four years and is ranked third in the NAIA’s Midwest Grouping with a 10-5 record. He began the season ranked 13th nationally.
“I can feel a difference in how quickly I get tired,” Pitrowski said. “At 285, one or two periods, and I was gassed. Now in three full periods I have just as much energy in the 7th minute as I do in the first.”
In May, Pitrowski will graduate with a business management degree and continue working for Dayton Freight Lines’ station in Lowell. He drives a forklift for the trucking company and did a management internship with the firm last season.
“He has adjusted to his new body type in that weight class,” Calumet College coach Ryan Rivera said. “He went from the biggest size to an undersized guy. When he first came in, he and the other guy were hanging on each other. Now he’s moving like a 125-pounder.”
Pitrowski qualified for nationals last year, the biggest tournament he’s ever entered, and this season he’s going for All-America status or bust.
“We’re trying to make it something special,” Pitrowski said.
CCAC All-Academic honorees named: The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference has handed out hardware, including all-academic honors, in three major team sports this month, and many locals were among the honorees.
Purdue Northwest volleyball players Brooke Ahrens (freshman of the year, second team all-CCAC) and Gabrielle Martin (first team all-CCAC) earned playing honors, as did IU South Bend first team all-CCAC picks Sierra Conklin of LaPorte and Ashley McClintock of Westville.
All-academic volleyball players included the aforementioned Martin and McClintock as well as Purdue Northwest’s Darya Maroz and Kylie Tincher. Emily Nix (Chesterton) and Janelle Rehlander (LaPorte) also made it for IU South Bend.
In women’s soccer, all-academic team honorees included Calumet College’s Hannah Alderson and Harley Sutton and Purdue Northwest’s Lucie Ashmore, Shayna Coy, Christina Kotas, Tiffani Kotas, Lauren McElroy, Iridiana Mendoza, Shelby Ross and Kelley Sharp. Hobart’s Lacey Richards made it for Robert Morris, and Schererville’s Jill Doan and Abigail Peppin made it for St. Xavier.
In men’s soccer, Purdue Northwest’s Grant Ugarte was freshman of the year and second team all-conference. Teammates Miguel David (first team) and Lake Central's Chris Rassel (second team) also made all-CCAC.
All-academic team men’s soccer players included Calumet College’s Nick Barango and Nemanja Stefanovic; Purdue Northwest’s Murilo Cunha, Sergio Reyes and Tulio Ribeiro; and Robert Morris’ Andrew Fletcher (Valparaiso).