Year after year, the Hannibal varsity wrestling team works for the same goals.
They want to show daily improvement and focus more on technique development rather than how many wins or losses a wrestler has. But the Warriors main goal is a league championship and an impressive showing in the sectionals.
This season, Hannibal returns many wrestlers from last season’s injury plagued team. A lot of these wrestlers gained their first experience at the varsity level last season as a result of all teammate injuries. However, Coach Mike Kitts expects those wrestlers to be better off for learning about varsity wrestling through trial by fire.
Hannibal will be led by an impressive group of seniors including senior captain Dennis Spaulding. The Warriors could feature a team that has a rare accomplishment — three of its seniors could reach 100 career wins this season.
The team began practice Nov. 11 in what Kitts believed was not the best physical condition. Hannibal spent the better part of the first two weeks developing its physical conditioning. Kitts preached to his wrestlers about the importance of maintaining a solid physical regimen in the event they need extra energy during a longer lasting match.
The Warriors are fortunate enough there are no newcomers to the sport on their roster this season. Kitts’ grapplers were either on Hannibal’s modified, junior varsity or varsity teams a year ago and needed little technique work while physical conditioning developing was the main priority.
To date, Kitts feels the team is not quite yet where they need to be. He believes conditioning development is a slow process that slows down even more as teams begin to develop their techniques.
Greg Hadcock, Dustin Ouellette, Dennis Spaulding and Derek Hilton have been named captains for the upcoming season. Kitts said he chooses a captain based on a person who works hard during the season, maintains his physical conditioning during the offseason and is a good role model for his peers socially.
The Warriors schedule hits them fast and furiously during the early portion of the season. Hannibal begins the season with a league match against Skaneateles. They are seeking redemption after falling to Skaneateles a year ago. The Warriors will then take part in The Valley Duals which traditionally features the best teams in the eastern part of Section 3.
The host school, Ilion, combined with Mohawk to form Central Valley Academy, which is expected to be very challenging for Hannibal. The Warriors will end December by participating in The Ken Haynes Tournament at SUNY Oswego. Year after year, this event features the best individual talent Section 3 has to offer.
The Warriors have an opportunity to be quite battle tested heading into January. “The month of December (will be) a good test for us, we will know where we stand by Christmas.”, Kitts said.