David Hessert has big expectations for himself when he steps onto the wrestling mat.
“My goal all of high school has been to be a region champ and place in states,” Hessert said. “That’s the ultimate goal and hopefully I will reach it this year.”
The Haddonfield Memorial High School junior wasn’t pleased with his six-win sophomore campaign and decided it was time for him to fully commit himself to the sport he loved. That meant making the difficult decision of dropping one of his other interests—football.
“It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I had to make,” Hessert said of not competing with the Bulldawgs this fall. “I think in the long run, and hopefully by the end of the season, I will be able to see that I made the right decision.”
Hessert wrestled at 132 pounds last season, but should be a weight class or two higher after spending his extended off season in the weight room. He believes the added strength will help him be more aggressive in matches, while also allowing him to outlast some of his opponents.
Hessert also hopes to step into a leadership role this season. With only two or three seniors expected to factor into the opening day lineup, Hessert is assuming some of the leadership responsibilities. He said he is looking forward to the added responsibilities that come with molding younger wrestlers.
“I think I grew as a leader,” he said. “We had a lot of people graduate last year. Now, a lot of younger kids have to step up and hopefully I can fill some shoes.
Hessert and his teammates spent countless hours during the summer months working on their craft. He believes the commitment made by the older wrestlers, along with expected contributions from a few new faces can carry the Bulldawgs a long way.
“The leaders on the team, especially the upperclassmen put in a lot of time during the off season,” Hessert said. “Then you have the underclassmen, which are coming from a great feeder program in the middle school, so we are definitely looking to make some noise this season.”
Even with all of the training in the off season, Hessert made it clear that there is a difference between being in shape and being in wrestling shape. That is why the Bulldawgs have spent much of the past two weeks running and doing endurance drills.
“The first couple of weeks of the season are always tough because it’s hard to get in wrestling shape coming from any sport,” Hessert said. “The coaches have been working us hard these first couple of weeks to get our conditioning up so we can work on the technical things after we get this base.”
With just a couple weeks left in the preseason, Haddonfield coach Bill Heverly emphasized that his lineup is not close to set. Hessert is one of the few wrestlers virtually assured a spot, as the camp has been filled with competition. Hessert looks at the tight competition as another positive that will improve the team’s chances of success.
“It only makes the team tighter and stronger knowing everybody is working hard to get a starting varsity position,” said Hessert. “Everybody wants to be a part of a special year.”