Boys track: Positive numbers surround track team
When the Hastings boys and girls track teams get ready for each day of practice by warming up in the HHS gymnasium, it's a beautiful sight for boys coach Jason Koch.
The gym is filled with athletes.
"It's so exciting to see that we have so many kids, we fill the gym during our warm-ups," he said. "Hopefully we can maintain that in the years to come."
Koch expects about 60 boys to be on the team this year.
"That has grown significantly over the past few years," he said. "A few years ago, we were in the 40s. We want to stay in the 60s. If we can stay there, it will lead to some good things in the future."
Hastings has a few key seniors returning to the team this year.
Trevor Lucking will be one of the team's top pole vaulters. Brett Stricker will also be pole vaulting for the Raiders.
Travis Cysiewski will be a key sprinter.
Ryan Doffing will run some sprints, the 400 and will be a key member of the 4x400 relay.
Austin Thom will likely have a spot on the 4x800 and 4x400 relay teams.
As for juniors, there are a couple strong athletes that will have no problem scoring points for the team. Sam Hicks is a solid thrower for the Raiders.
Darius Wilkerson and Dustin Kimmes should both fare well as sprinters. The same can be said for Spencer Saccoman.
Jacob Rachuy will be running distance events and should be especially strong in the 800.
Jesse Green will have a big impact in the middle distance events.
In the distance events, sophomores Lukas Human, Joe Rabaey, Matt Woolery and Christian Weiland should add depth to the roster.
Freshman Colby Smith will have a good season as a distance runner. Dan Marquette and Wes Evansen will also contribute as freshmen. Marquette will run middle distance events and Evansen did well in the triple jump and long jump during a recent meet in River Falls.
The number of returning athletes for Hastings isn't a very big list, so Koch is realistic about his team's chances this year.
"Considering the circumstances with not too many returning guys, to me the goal is get a couple kids to the state meet," he said. "Trevor could go in the pole vault, and then maybe there's a kid here or there who can sneak in. Other than that, it's going to be tough to be super competitive in the conference. Our conference is really good. We have some numbers, but our lack of experience puts us in a tough position."
Koch has been happy with what he's seen from the team and the support the athletes show for one another. Last season, during a rainy meet in Lake City, many members of the team were out in the elements cheering on the 4x400 relay team, a sight that wasn't equaled by any other team there.
"To see these kids grow as a team and be supportive of each other means a lot to me," he said. "I want to maintain that excited team atmosphere on our team. One of the biggest things is hard work and commitment to each other for the team. We've been growing in that."
Koch expects Roseville, Stillwater, White Bear Lake and Forest Lake to be at the top of the conference.
Park's team should be good this year, too, Koch thought. He saw the Wolfpack during a recent time trial in Hastings and was impressed.