Raiders get running season off to a great start
The Hastings boys cross country team entered this season with high hopes and lofty expectations. Last Thursday did nothing to diminish those hopes and expectations.
Hastings junior Zack Benning went out and won the annual River Falls Extreme Meet, besting more than 300 runners en route to the win.
"From the get-go, he was in the top two or three," Hastings coach John Dewall said. "Then, he was like, see you later. He took off. He did really good. We haven't had a kid do that well in an invitational in years. There was a lot of tough competition there."
There were 19 schools competing in the meet.
Joe Rabaey, a HHS senior, wasn't far behind Benning. He placed fourth overall.
Jake Spitzack was the third Hastings runner to finish. He was followed by Austin Reuter and Forrest Close.
Shortly thereafter, things got interesting for Hastings as a number of newcomers staked a claim to a spot on varsity.
Garrett Tuin, a freshman, surprised Dewall with a strong finish. Tuin was among a group of youthful athletes who all earned a spot on varsity.
"I was really, really impressed with some of these new kids that cracked the varsity," Dewall said. "They've been working hard in practice. It's great to see all that depth. We've got 31 guys out, and it's going to be a battle. We'll see a lot of shaking up in that top seven for varsity throughout the year. Those four through seven spots were so close in times.
"It'll be a fun season to see all these athletes as they get in better shape."
As a team, Hastings placed sixth.
The Hastings girls team was led by junior Michaela Mills. Freshman Kiki Radke was the second Hastings finisher, and Ciara Christensen was third on the team.
Bri Strandberg, Kate Curtis, Mandy Mach and Quinn Myers rounded out the varsity.