By Rob Tetro
The Hannibal girls’ varsity track and field team comes into the 2014 season hoping to build off of its third place finish in last season’s Section 3, B-2 Meet.
This season, Hannibal has its sights set on winning the sectional championship. However, that’s not the only goal the Lady Warriors want to accomplish this season.
Coach Dan Pawlewicz said his athletes want to see 95 percent of the Hannibal runners improve on their times. Hannibal team members also are striving to be a team recognized for what they accomplish in the classroom.
It’s also important that the Lady Warriors have solid efforts in each invitational they participate in.
A year ago, the Lady Warriors sent two athletes to the New York State Qualifying Meet. This season, Hannibal also hopes to match or expand on the number of athletes who are invited to the state qualifying meet.
However, it all goes back to being the top team in Section 3, Class B-2 for the Lady Warriors. Pawlewicz said if his team can avoid injuries and maintain its impressive work ethic, sectional supremacy may be in the cards for Hannibal.
The Lady Warriors will feature a handful of both experienced and inexperienced athletes this season. In fact, 21 of the 31 athletes are in 10th grade or younger including four eighth-graders.
However, Hannibal has two juniors and two seniors who are expected to play key roles this season. Many of these athletes have the benefit of taking part in cross country and indoor track with Pawlewicz this year.
Some of the athletes have participated in all three sports for a number of seasons under Pawlewicz and have great familiarity with him. He feels his experienced athletes have a solid understanding of the expectations he has for them.
Yet, the future is now for two of the Lady Warriors eighth-graders.
McKenzie Mattison and Reilly Harris have already completed two seasons on Hannibal’s girls’ varsity cross country team and are embarking on their second season on the schools girls’ varsity track and field team.
Many Lady Warrior athletes who were part of Hannibal’s varsity cross country and/or varsity indoor track teams are also a part of their track and field team.
Pawlewicz said his athletes took part in an active but rather laid back summer program with the hope of peaking towards the end of last fall’s cross country season.
During indoor track season, varsity track and field athletes were prepared throughout the winter. They worked at a steady pace to build momentum throughout the winter.
These athletes have a chance to peak later on in the track and field season. For the athletes that did both varsity cross country and indoor track, they were in decent physical condition.
The athletes who didn’t take part in indoor track weren’t as physically prepared to begin practices. However, Pawlewicz is impressed with how hard these athletes are working to prepare themselves for the season. He is confident the physical conditioning of these athletes will develop as the season goes on.
The Lady Warriors will be led by seniors (Clarkson University bound) Devin Sorell and Gabby Griffin and juniors Micheala Sheldon and Kristen D’Angelo.
Pawlewicz points out the basic traits of a captain is leadership on and off the track and being a great role model for teammates and peers. Taking it a step farther, Pawlewicz feels a captain is someone who dedicates him or herself to working as hard to be a student as he or she does to being an athlete.
Not only does Pawlewicz believe his captains personify the expectations he has for his captains, but he also mentions his captains have so much familiarity with him that they could almost serve as secondary coaches.
The road to a Sectional Championship will be challenging one for the Lady Warriors.
This season, Hannibal takes on the likes of Cazenovia and Skaneateles. Pawlewicz considers those to be among the best teams in the state.
Jordan-Elbridge will also be a challenging meet for the Lady Warriors. Pawlewicz goes on to mention that meets against Westhill and Tully won’t come easily either.
Perhaps Hannibal will be tested the most when they compete in the numerous dual meets that have been scheduled.
First off, the Lady Warriors will host the Hannibal Sports Boosters Invitational April 26. Along with Jordan-Elbridge, Hannibal will face perennial powers Christian Brothers Academy and Holland Patent.
The Lady Warriors will also be competing in the Tully Invitational and the Fulton Athletic Boosters Invitational. Perhaps one of the more challenging events Hannibal will be taking part in this season will be the Oswego County Invitational. In this meet, the Lady Warriors will face the likes of Mexico, Fulton, Phoenix and Oswego.
If Hannibal is to achieve its goals this season, it will need to be a team with many strengths. The Lady Warriors are expected to have many.
Pawlewicz said athletes taking part in the shot put event have a lot of potential. Expectations are high for Micheala Sheldon in the 3000-meters and Mckenzie Mattison is expected to be solid in the steeplechase.
Pawlewicz said Reily Harris has what it takes to be a strong contender in the 1,500-meters and Hannibal’s 4×100 meter team could be one of the toughest in Section 3.
Tayler Dence might be in for an impressive season in the 100 meter and hurdles events. Senior Captain Devin Sorell is striving to return to the State Qualifiers in the long jump and fellow senior Gabby Griffin is expected to have a solid season in the 400-meters.
Pawlewicz said freshmen Sydney Alton, Callie Cacchione and Janejira Cooper and others have the potential to provide depth for the 4×100 meters team. He also expects athletes participating in the pole vault and high jump to improve as the season goes on.