Lobos’ Smith doesn’t let diabetes stop him from wrestling

Wrestler gives himself insulin shots four times a day

Greg Smith checks his blood sugar level Friday during the Warrior Classic at Central.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN’S GREG SMITH won’t let diabetes keep him from having fun wrestling.

Greg Smith’s blood sugar was a little high Saturday morning.

But it wasn’t a concern for the Rocky Mountain High School junior diabetic wrestler. He simply injected himself with some insulin and stepped on the mat to wrestle in the Warrior Classic quarterfinals at Central High School.

Smith, though, became weak and tired seconds into the match. He stopped and ate a Pop Tart and chugged some Gatorade, but it was too little too late. Central’s Zach Rosales defeated Smith, putting him in the consolation bracket.

“I think he took too much insulin,” Rocky Mountain coach Ken Taylor said. “It drove his blood sugar count down below where it should be, but there are so many factors that work into it.

“We’ve got to figure out this blood sugar stuff out. He’s got a lot of potential.”
Smith recovered in time for his next match and placed fifth in his first Warrior Classic.

The 17-year-old discovered he had Type 1 diabetes when he was 8 and was losing, instead of gaining, weight.

“It was real hard,” Smith said. “My mom was devastated, but it’s something I’ve got to deal with.

“I was skinny and tired. I didn’t feel good ever. I try to stay away from sweets.”

With Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin because the body’s immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, according to WebMD.

Although it was discouraging news, Smith wasn’t about to give up sports.

He had been wrestling since he was 5 years old. He also plays football and baseball.

Since a doctor instructed him how and when to inject the insulin, Smith does it himself.

“I had to get used to it,” Smith said. “Now, I don’t let anybody give me shots. I can feel and know where to put it so it doesn’t hurt as bad.”

Smith gives himself insulin shots four times a day. He injects the insulin in his stomach, leg or butt, varying the location so one area doesn’t get too sore.

“I wake up in the morning and check it,” Smith said. “I eat breakfast and check it.

“I have to take a shot every time I eat. I check it before I eat or exercise.”

The constant management of the condition gets frustrating, but Smith has learned to accept it.

“It doesn’t phase me anymore,” Smith said. “I’ve had (diabetes) for nine years now. I’ve got it under control.

“Sometimes I get discouraged and feel I could do better if I didn’t have diabetes.”

Smith takes a prescription drug, called Lantus®, every night before he goes to sleep to help stabilize his blood sugar, but sometimes he still needs a shot like Saturday morning.

Wrestling is the toughest sport in terms of managing his diabetes, he says.

“Wrestling exerts more energy,” Smith said. “My blood sugar goes down way fast, 50 points in 10 minutes at least, depending on the match.

“There’s a greater risk. My mom doesn’t want anything to happen, but she encourages me to wrestle.”

It doesn’t help that Smith started wrestling practice three weeks ago and days after moving to Fort Collins from Pleasant Hill, Mo., to live with his father.

He is also light for a heavyweight, weighing in at 212 pounds Friday morning. Heavyweights can wrestle up to 285 pounds.

Even though it’s more challenging to manage the diabetes in wrestling, Smith still wants to wrestle in college and encourages other athletes with diabetes to continue playing sports.

“(Doctors) used to didn’t want you to play any sports, but now they encourage you to play sports to help keep (blood sugar count) down,” Smith said. “Sports has helped me out. I have to keep it under control to do sports.

“If I don’t keep it under control, I don’t do good in sports. ”


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