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Posted November 23, 2012

Mount Vernon's Kyle Durgin, in action last January, learned all about cutting weight last season, aiming for a berth in the state meet. (Ashley Ruden/Mount Vernon junior)

Editor’s note: Here is your chance to tell your story about your team, your school or your favorite player. If you’d like to join The Gazette’s growing list of high school contributors, contact J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

By Jake Durgin, Mount Vernon sophomore

MOUNT VERNON — “You’ve been … Thunderstruck!” This is what he hears as he prepares for this big match.

Just the second match of the day, Mount Vernon’s Kyle Durgin is going up against the fifth ranked wrestler at 113 pounds, Zeke Smith. As he jogs around the circle he feels good, he’s ready.

He watches as the fans settle into their seats. Sweat drips from his face; it’s a miracle his body can produce this substance on just eight ounces of water a day. But he’s focused on one thing, winning, and keeping his shot to make it to the state tournament alive.

As he watches the 106 match before his, he thinks about what’s to come. He knows it’s going to be a tough match but he also knows he is ready. He’s put in too much hard work to have the road end here.

Imagine waking every day at 6 a.m., rolling out of bed, stomach growling, wanting so badly to go into to the kitchen, grab a glass, fill it with water and just drink it but not being able to.

Instead you suit up in multiple layers, long johns, sweat pants, under armor, a long-sleeve shirt, a sweat shirt, a hat and gloves. You grab your iPod and put in your headphones. You step out into the cool, brisk, winter air. It’s still dark as you begin to run, you see few cars. You run for nearly four miles and return in time to shower and go to school.

This is Durgin’s life during wrestling season.

Kyle Durgin (left) finished second at this Feb. 4 meet. (Ashley Ruden/Mount Vernon junior)

At school, it’s hard to focus. All he can think about is how much he weighs. Can he eat? Drink? It’s endless. He fantasizes about drinking a pop or having a KFC famous bowl. Oh how good it would be, but he knows he can’t. He must stay focused on the goal — state.

At lunch, as all the other students rush down to the cafeteria, he saunters down to the locker room to check his weight. Then, if the scale allows him to, he walks down to the cafeteria and grabs a small portion of food. He measures water into his orange camelback water bottle until it reads 8 ounces. This is nearly all the water he will have for the day. After a short indulgence of his favorite — peanut butter and honey sandwich and a small amount of water — he angrily returns to class.

At practice, as other athletes in their shorts and T-shirts drip sweat onto the mat, he suits up in sweat pants and multiple shirts as if it wasn’t hot enough in the wrestling room already. He walks over to the thermostat and pushes up the arrow until it reads “80.”

With all the people in the room it feels more like 90. As other wrestlers slack off, he goes as hard as he possibly can. He has to. He works to lose every possible ounce he can to allow himself to eat that night. He watches as the wrestlers who aren’t cutting suck down water.

After practice he heads home to rest, but this is short-lived. After a while he suits up one last time, in his many layers of clothing and heads off to the local gym — “Elliot’s.” He works out feverishly for another hour, to hour-and-a-half. Upon return to his home he goes to bed, only to wake up the next morning and repeat this whole process again the next day.

Many people may wonder why anyone would put themselves through this, a fair question.

“You’ll never feel better in your life than when you cut weight, you can see every muscle in your body,” he said. “When you win, it makes it all worth it.”

The motivation to put yourself through something like this comes from an unbelievable will to win. It’s something many people who don’t wrestle cannot understand, but me, also a wrestler, would give anything to win. Because when you do, it is the best feeling in the world.

Cass Durgin, our dad, can sympathize with Kyle because he cut weight in high school as well.

“Everybody else did it so I had to, to be competitive,” he said.

And that — “to be competitive” — is what drives wrestlers.

It is this will to win that pushes Kyle off the mat in the third period when he is dead tired and wants so badly to just give up. It is this will to win that drives Kyle out of the comfort of his bed at 6 a.m. and into the cool winter air to run before school. It is this will to win that stops Kyle from walking through the lunch line at school and just having a meal like all the other students.

And it is this incredible will to win that drove him to defeat Zeke Smith at sectionals, a win that took him to the district tournament last year.

If Kyle has anything to do with it, that will is going to take him to the state tournament this year.

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