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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Surveying the scene as a 215-pound silver medalist last February, Heidelberg senior wrestler William Domko decided to take on a challenge.

A radical one. He’d drop to 171 pounds for his next wrestling season.

“I wanted to go where the good wrestlers are,” Domko explained Monday after a strenuous two-hour practice session punctuated by 30 minutes of non-stop aerobics. “Everyone said there weren’t that many good wrestlers at 215. Last year, 171 was really stacked.”

Stacked, sure, but between Domko and the 171-pound class stood 44 pounds and a football season on the Heidelberg line, where the extra weight likely would come in handy.

“I was 210 when the season started,” Domko said, “and I told [football] Coach [Sal] Katz that I’d probably be down to 185 by the end of the season. I told him I didn’t care — wrestling comes first with me.”

Katz wasn’t the only Heidelberg coach taken aback when informed of Domko’s plans.

“I was scared when he told me he was going to wrestle 171,” said Domko’s father, Darrin, Heidelberg’s volunteer head wrestling coach and himself a four-time state champion as a high-schooler. “But he lost the weight the right way. There was no drain on his system.”

The younger Domko summarized the right way to reshape himself.

“I get up at 5:30 and work out,” he said. “I’ll work out at lunchtime, too, if I need to.”

And how does one work out the inevitable hunger pangs?

“I’ve learned to eat healthy,” Domko said. “The key is staying hydrated. If you stay hydrated you don’t get that hungry.”

So far, Domko’s decision has paid off.

“It’s the perfect weight for him,” Coach Domko said. “He’s one of the most technically proficient wrestlers on the team, but now he’s quicker, and because he wrestled at 215, he’s stronger than most 171-pounders.”

Even if he doesn’t yet feel like one of them.

“When I see the 171-pounders before a match,” the younger Domko said, “I’ll think to myself. ‘They’re too small.’ Then I remember that I’m a 171-pounder, too.”

Domko, unbeaten so far at his new weight, has seen part of his plan go awry, however.

“Brock [Blankenship of AFNORTH] has moved up to 189,” Domko rued about last year’s 171-pound champion. “And Dameon [Odum of Hohenfels, the defending 152-pound champ) is wrestling 160.”

Even more ironically, Darrin Fomin of Ramstein, No. 3 at 171 in ’07, has moved up to Domko’s old class at 215.

Still, the now-svelte Domko, who attends the Oklahoma University camp every summer and dreams of wrestling for the Sooners, has no regrets.

“I love this new weight class,” he said. “It’s where I needed to be.”

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