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At 7-0, Hastings wrestlers ready for The Clash

So far, so good.

The Hastings wrestling team is off to a perfect 7-0 start on the season, and first-year coach Justin Hahn couldn't be much happier than he is.

That said, it would take a monumental effort for the Raiders to emerge from The Clash tournament in Rochester with that perfect mark still intact.

Consider this: Hastings' is the No. 4 seed. Sounds good, right? But that's for their 8-team bracket. Out of the 32 teams from across the nation, 10 are ranked nationally.

Included in the field are Apple Valley (No. 3 nationally), Simley (No. 8), Montini Catholic, Ill. (No. 17), Wisconsin Rapids (No. 25), Wausau, Wis., West (No. 26), Hastings (No. 27), Park Hill, Mo. (No. 30), Grand Island, Neb. (No. 34), Roseburg, Ore. (No. 37) and Waverly-Shell Rock, Iowa (No. 38).

The other 22 teams? They're not too bad, either. Included in the field are five schools that won state titles last year.

One of those schools, Skutt Catholic from Nebraska, is Hastings' first-round opponent. They aren't ranked nationally, but won the Class B state title last year.

"We'll have some great competition right off the bat, but that's what you expect when you go to this tournament," Hahn said. "It is, arguably, the toughest dual-meet tournament in the country."

Apple Valley is the No. 1-ranked team in the tournament. The top-ranked team in Hastings' 8-team bracket is Montini Catholic.

Should the Raiders advance past Skutt Catholic, they'd face Montini in the second round.

Hastings faced Montini last year and beat them. The Raiders ended up placing eighth last year.

"The tournament is a real eye-opener for our younger kids to see what the older kids have to do to be successful," Hahn said. "When you get down there, every team you face is going to be tough. There are no easy teams down there."

Included in the field will be a team from Hawaii (Punahou), the school President Barack Obama attended.

Leading individuals

Several members of the Hastings team have had phenomenal seasons thus far.

Included in that group is Eric Bauer, who has been wrestling at 119 pounds so far. He led the team at the Christmas tournament with a second-place finish.

"He has been doing a great job," Hahn said. "He wrestled phenomenally at the Christmas tournament. He won some close matches, and then lost a close one in the finals."

At 140 pounds, Colten LaChance has been faring well, including a fifth-place finish at the Christmas tournament.

"That's the best I've seen him wrestle in his years on varsity," Hahn said. "He seems to be getting better every week. He had a great opening tournament at the Raider Duals and the Christmas tournament was just awesome for him. He looks so good on his feet.

"He's one of the hardest workers we have in the room. It's nice to see that hard work pay off for him."

Tyler Rohr at 160 pounds has had a solid season, too.

"He's done a great job as a captain and leader on the team," Hahn said. "He has been awesome for us. He's had some tough matches and got dinged up a bit. We'll get him healed up and when we go down to The Clash, he'll be healed up and ready to go."

He placed sixth at the Christmas tournament.

Zach Rohr, a captain, is coming back well from a hand injury and should be back to full strength soon.

"I think he's disappointed with how he has started, but he should be back at 100 percent by The Clash."