Those priorities are dominating on the mat for the Spring Lake wrestling team this winter, which he hopes leads to future success as a grappler at the collegiate level.
Hissom is one of a promising number of wrestlers in the Tri-Cities this winter, which could see three outstanding seasons turned in by Spring Lake, Fruitport and Grand Haven.
Hissom has made the most of his early opportunity to compete at the varsity level.
“I got kind of a lucky break (three years ago) with our 189-pounder dropping out, which opened up a spot for me on varsity,” Hissom said. “And the more I wrestled, the more I’ve liked it and the more I realized that this is something I can be really good at.
“I saw an opportunity and I’ve ran with it.”
If Hissom has his way, his senior season could be full of milestones for the Lakers. He said he expects to eclipse 100 career wins by mid-season and also hopes to break Spring Lake’s single season takedown record of 100.
Of course, nothing would be sweeter than to cap his career with a title at 189 pounds at the Palace of Auburn Hills — the host of the state wrestling finals.
“I was 40-10 last year and was one match away from placing at state,” Hissom said. “It’s the kind of thing where this year, I don’t just want to make the finals, I want to do really well. I’d be really upset with myself if I don’t place at least top four.”
Spring Lake coach Dan Robinson believes that’s capable for his senior standout, as he called Hissom “the heart of soul of the team.” Hissom is one of two returning state qualifiers, along with senior Tyler Nietering, although several more could be knocking on the door this year.
“He’s really dedicated himself to wrestling,” Robinson said of Hissom. “He’s put in a ton of time during the summer at getting himself better.”
Hissom said he “became aware” of wrestling when his older brother, Nathaniel, wrestled at Spring Lake four years ago. But the sport — and his success in it — has become so much more important to him now. It’s evident in his off-season participation, which saw him attend a team camp with Spring Lake at Penn State University, as well as a pair of talented-filled individual camps, one being the “Chase Your Dreams Camp,” hosted by former Iowa All-American Brent Metcalf.
“I wanted to expose myself against some of the best, and that’s the only way to get better — to compete against the best,” Hissom said. “It showed me how to be a good technician, and how they go about their training.”
Hissom also put in a lot of hard work in the weight room and on the field for football throughout the summer, which unfortunately, wasn’t rewarded. He re-injured a previous neck/spine injury during the Lakers’ season-opener against Whitehall on April 25. Although he was an anchor on both the linebacking and offensive line units for the Lakers, Spring Lake coach Jerry Rabideau felt it was too risky for Hissom to continue to play.
“One wrong hit and you could be looking at further, more serious injuries down the road,” Rabideau said.
Hissom said the injury won’t affect him on the mat, however. Wrestling, while extremely intense, features less violent collisions than on the football field, so the chances Hissom aggravates his injury is less.
“Last year, I hurt my spine playing football, but I continued to wrestle in the winter,” Hissom said. “I’ve been wrestling all through the summer and I didn’t see any problems. Now I feel completely healthy.”
And a completely healthy and extremely motivated Hissom could mean big trouble for his opponents at 189 this season.