Raiders place third at state golf meet
The careers for five decorated Hastings High School golfers concluded on a high note. At last week’s state meet at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, Hastings placed third overall.
Graduation wasn’t kind to the Raiders, who will lose five of their six varsity players, many of whom have been fixtures on varsity since they were in seventh or eighth grade.
“As seventh- and eighth-graders, these kids proved that they belonged on the varsity team,” coach Pete McGinnis said. “I can still remember coming back at night after tournaments and (I) would see them back on course practicing. I even gave them a day off from practice this season to take a mental break from golf, but when I went down to the range that afternoon, they were hitting balls. The commitment to get better and help each other improve led the way for our success.”
Hastings had high hopes of winning a state title this year, and with a 294-stroke average over their previous four rounds, that appeared like a real possibility. In the first round of the state tournament, though, the Raiders had a 306. In the second round, the team had a 311.
“We putted extremely well during that (four-match) period, but … with the quicker greens and tougher pin placements, that cost the team some extra strokes,” McGinnis said. “These boys have played with a lot of confidence this season, but when you lip out some putts, it take away some confidence.”
Edina won the meet with a 590. Wayzata was second with a 591. Hastings had a 617. White Bear Lake was fourth with 620 strokes.
“We started off the second round with some good holes,” McGinnis said. “I felt like after four holes we had the start that we needed to make a run at the title, but Edina and Wayzata also played very well at the start.”
While Hastings didn’t capture that state title, McGinnis said he was proud of what the team was able to accomplish this year.
“The coaching staff and parents were extremely proud of these boys,” he said. “They established themselves as one of the top teams in the state and accomplished so much over the last six years.”
McGinnis said that the average GPA for this group was 3.4.
“It was great to see high school kids have their priorities set straight and compete at such a high level,” he said. “These kids are so well respected by opposing coaches and golfers because they play the game with high integrity and honor.”
During the state meet banquet, three Hastings players were named to the All-State team. They were seniors Jacob Cooper and Sam Otto and junior Matthew Radke.
Seniors Dominick Bacon and Mark Huneke were named to the academic All-State team.
Cooper set a school record with a 67 during the section tournament. He had a 69 in the first round of the state tournament and ended up placing ninth, shooting an 80 on the second day. He was All-Conference for three years, All-State twice and a four-year captain.
Bacon shot an 81 and a 75 to place 37th.
Otto had a 79 and a 77 to finish tied for 37th, too. He is a two-time All-Conference pick, a two-time All-State selection and a two-year captain.
Radke had a 77 and a 79 to tie for 37th as well. The lone junior on the team, Radke has already played in three state tournaments and is a four-time All-Conference selection.
Mark Huneke had an 84 and an 80 to take 69th. He was the third-ranked golfer in the Suburban East Conference and earned All-Conference honors. He was a two-year captain.
Nick Tusa had a pair of 82s to finish tied with Huneke for 69th. He was an All-Conference pick as a junior and a captain this year.
Awards have piled up for the Raiders in recent years. The team has won the conference title for three straight years. They’ve won two straight section titles, played in two state tournaments and set a school record as a team with a 287.
“I know the kids will look back and appreciate how well they played this season and know they put the time in to compete at such a high level,” McGinnis said. “They represented our entire school, the Hastings Country Club and community with a positive attitude and work ethic.”