By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — McAlester senior James Remedi said he first donned a wrestling singlet at the start of his seventh-grade season. His father, Vincent Remedi, wrestled in college, which helped James ultimately choose wrestling over football.
“Practicing alone was brutal at first, but it got easier,” he said Feb. 14.
James Remedi has grown up in McAlester’s public school system. This season he’s battled in the 182-pound division, winning several matches despite weighing just 169 pounds himself.
“I’m wrestling people way bigger than me,” Remedi said.
“You don’t want to get stuck underneath them. You want to get it over quick — like, get that leg, get them on their back and be done with it. I’m not very quick, but I mean I’m quick for, I guess, my weight.”
That weight was as much as 205 pounds in August, Remedi said, leading to an aggressive dieting program that dropped him to 182 by the first match and then down to 169. He said his diet included eating a salad every day at lunch, consuming plenty of bread and pasta and drinking only water and Gatorade.
“I don’t ever not eat,” Remedi said. “You have to eat something in the day, because if you starve yourself, (you lose) the stored fat in you. I mean, you eat, and you work off what you eat so you’ll be better.”
He added, “For the longest time I hadn’t had soda, and then I had one the other day for the first time. It burned my throat.”
While trying to control his diet, Remedi said he also trained aggressively outside of afternoon practices. And without the proper mental attitude, he said, none his dieting or exercising would’ve done any good.
“If you’re not wanting to lose the weight, you’re not going to get to,” Remedi said.
“In the mornings, when I used to get up and run with Donald (Cannon) at 5 a.m., this used to be my motivation. It’s a pretty bad motive, but I said, ‘You’re fat; you better keep running.’”
Remedi will compete at Regionals today at Tahlequah. With high hopes for this postseason, Remedi will finally get to see if all that dieting and early-morning conditioning has paid off.
“I’m planning to go to Regionals, place first, and then go to State and place first there, too,” he said.
Remedi added, “I can’t believe Regionals and State are here already.”
After two years at Puterbaugh, Remedi moved up to high school wrestling as a freshman. He wrestled in the 94- and then 110-pound weight classes his first two high school seasons.
“Regionals, I pinned a kid in the first period, and that was pretty much one of my first pins,” Remedi said, though he couldn’t remember if the pin happened during his freshman or sophomore season. “I wish I would’ve taken it more seriously, as I do now, back then.”
Early success didn’t carry over to his junior season, however, as Remedi said he didn’t get along with coach Tommy Rogers. The two argued so much, Remedi said, that Rogers kicked him off the team around the start of 2013.
“I would’ve done a whole lot better this year if I hadn’t been kicked off,” Remedi said. “But I missed a couple December practices, and I didn’t know you could go and apologize.”
Whatever issues he might’ve had with Rogers, Remedi said he’s gotten along much better with new coach Tim Thomas.
“I learned how to set up moves better than anyone else,” Remedi said of one of the things his new coach has taught him. “I actually like taking a shot now.”
However these next couple weeks go, they’ll likely be Remedi’s last as a competitive wrestler. He said he wants to go to college next year, but he doesn’t expect to continue wrestling.
The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Remedi said, is his top choice for colleges because of its Forensic Science Institute. Remedi said he’d like to someday work in a police forensics lab.
“Being able to look at people’s bones and say they were healthy, they were fit, they weren’t fat, what sex they were, how tall they were, how much they weighed, just by looking at the bones — I think that’s awesome,” Remedi said.
Remedi also ran cross country at Puterbaugh, he said, but in high school it’s wrestling year-round. In past offseasons he’s gone to organized freestyle wrestling practices, but he’s also done a lot of training on his own.
When he has free time, Remedi said he’ll typically spend time with friends and family, study or catch up on his sleep.
Considering speed is Remedi’s best weapon against his physically larger opponents, getting enough rest remains an essential part of his game.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.