Dealing with diabetes, Vinores is a winner

On High Schools

High Schools

February 06, 2005|By MILTON KENT

HERE'S WHAT Owings Mills wrestling coach Guy Pritzker thinks of Eric Vinores: If Vinores were an animal with a leg caught in a trap, he would rather gnaw off his leg than surrender.

Believe it or not, Pritzker uses the analogy as a testament to Vinores' penchant for full-out perseverance, not as a sign that the 140-pounder is stubborn (though he believes that, too).

"He would break his neck to get out of a move," Pritzker said of his senior. "That's what makes him a champion. He's always been a little better than he should have been. You have a great wrestler who gives you 50 percent. The human body is only capable of giving 10 percent. A great wrestler might give 50. I tell you, Eric gives you as close to 100 percent as he can. He's a super kid."

Vinores, standing a foot away when Pritzker delivered the compliment, could only smile sheepishly and look at the floor.

"Coach Pritzker is like an uncle to me," Vinores said. "It's just determination and staying with the team and love of the sport."

Beyond the normal pitfalls that can trip a high schooler, Vinores has had to be tenacious to compete, because he has Type 1 diabetes, meaning his body does not create insulin, which takes sugar from the blood into cells. He wears a stent on his left inner thigh, where he connects an insulin pump. Every time Vinores eats, he has to use the pump, too.

Vinores discovered his ailment four years ago, heading into the eighth grade, when he suddenly dropped nearly 20 pounds, from 100 to 81. The diagnosis caught him and his family by surprise, because no one in his family is a known diabetic.

Vinores, who has been wrestling since he was 6, was placed on a diet that required him to eat three meals, plus snacks, whether he was hungry or not, to keep his blood sugar at a manageable level. Now, he only has to eat or drink when he needs to.

Wrestling as a diabetic presents some challenges. Last month during a tournament at Mount St. Joseph, the needle and plastic tube inside the stent were bent.

By the time Vinores noticed, his blood sugar level had gone up and he lost a subsequent match by two points.

"When your blood sugar is high, you don't have the energy," Pritzker said. "He didn't know that his pump got ripped up. He thought he was getting the insulin, and he wasn't."

Then, there are weigh-ins. Vinores doesn't have problems making weight, but there are times when the weigh-ins cause complications, especially when they don't go off as scheduled. New rules prohibit weigh-ins from occurring until all teams are present.

That caused a problem at a recent tournament at Parkville, where Vinores was ready for the scheduled 8 a.m. weigh-in but had to wait until all the schools arrived. His blood sugar level had dropped to a particularly low level, so low that he needed to drink some juice. But Pritzker was afraid that he would go over weight if he consumed anything before the weigh-in. Luckily, meet officials let him be weighed before the other teams arrived.

Pritzker says Vinores is particularly vulnerable during matches in which he has to wrestle more than once, because his energy level can fluctuate because of diabetes. And Pritzker should know, as he is a Type 2 diabetic, meaning his body creates insulin but not enough.

"You know how some kids hold back?" Pritzker said. "Some kids have a match, and they're not trying. You never have that with him. The problem with diabetes is, he has trouble putting a couple of matches together. He'll have a really, really hard match, then an hour later, have another hard match, and he hasn't had the time to recover. That's been the hard part of diabetes. The thing about him is, he never really makes excuses. It's, `I just didn't have it.' He's never really blamed his diabetes."

Vinores' story isn't one of a kid winning just because he shows up. When Vinores shows up, he's pretty good, good enough to be ranked first among Class 2A-1A opponents and second in the state in his weight class behind Eren Civan of Walt Whitman in Bethesda, according to the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

Vinores will be wrestling collegiately at Rider next fall, and Pritzker has some advice for whoever coaches him: Be prepared to give in, because Eric Vinores won't.

"He's very hard-headed," Pritzker said. "He won't give up, and ... you can't get him to conform. A lot of times, you're trying to be serious, and that tenacity gets in the way. That's what's made him a great wrestler. He gives you all he's got."

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