Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014.
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The Hastings girls' basketball team won its first two games of the season thanks to some stifling defense and well-rounded offense this past week. The Raiders beat St. Croix Lutheran on the road Nov. 28 and held Lutheran to just 29 total points for the 58-29 victory. Then on Thursday, Nov. 30, they hosted the Rosemount Irish, the team that knocked Hastings out of the section playoffs last season. However, this year's Rosemount team is very different from last year's and the Raiders easily handled them to the tune of 64-43.
The Hastings boys' basketball team started its season in exciting fashion this past weekend with two close wins at a tournament in Red Wing. The Raiders beat Hudson (Wis.) 95-94 on Friday, Dec. 1, and won on a 3-pointer by junior forward Matt Schlottman with under 10 seconds left. They then beat Stewartville 69-65 on Saturday, Dec. 2, in the championship game where Schlottman hit key free throws at the end to help seal the victory. Hudson "It was a fast-paced game, both teams played fast and shot a good percentage," head coach Chad Feikema said.
Four Hastings Raiders athletes signed their letters of intent to play collegiate athletics at the NCAA Division I, II or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics next year. T.J. Pottinger will play DI lacrosse at Furman University in the Southern Conference for the Paladins. Pottinger is a two-year captain for Hastings wrestling and was a captain this past season for the football team. He will primarily serve as the faceoff man for Furman.
The Hastings girls' hockey team is 1-4 through its first five games as it battles through a tough portion of the schedule made up of section opponents. After dropping its first two games to Park and Apple Valley, the Raiders were able to bounce back against Woodbury before then dropping two more to East Ridge and Eagan.
Hastings' junior swimmer Natasha Girgen advanced to the Minnesota State High School League class AA state tournament for the second year in a row in the 100 and 200 freestyle events. Girgen took second in the 200 freestyle in the preliminaries with a time of one minute and 56.99 seconds. She then took third in the finals, swimming a 1:54.90 to qualify for state. In the 100 freestyle, she also took second with a time of 53.86. Then in the finals, Girgen cut off more than half a second to finish second again and qualify for state with a time of 53.28.
The Hastings girls' hockey team opened its regular season against two section opponents this past week. The Raiders hosted Park of Cottage Grove on Thursday, Nov. 9, at Hastings Civic Arena and fell 4-2 in a game that was close until near the very end. Then on Saturday, Hastings traveled to Apple Valley where they lost 6-2 after leading 2-0.
Hastings senior David Nogle had his state cross-country experience derailed by illness, but he said that just being able to compete in the race was worth all the hard work. "I knew it would be tough, especially waking up very sick," he explained. "I just reminded myself that I would have given anything to compete at the state meet, and even if I finished last it would have been worth it."
The Hastings girls' hockey team started practice the day before Halloween and have already had their exhibition trip to Duluth. Heading into the season, they lack much of their goal scoring from last year but also return several girls who saw significant varsity action.
Unlike many volleyball matches, the exciting action came at the beginning of the Hastings vs. Henry Sibley section 3AAA playoff matchup. The Raiders battled and clawed back in the first set but were unable to keep up that energy in the second set and then were blown out in the third. Hastings fell in three straight sets 21-25, 15-25, 5-25.
Hastings senior David Nogle qualified for the state cross country meet in his first year of the sport Thursday, Oct. 26, at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna. Meanwhile, the boys' team as a whole took 12th out of 16 teams while the girls placed 15th. First year, no problem Nogle led the Raider boys by taking 10th with a time of 16 minutes, 37.30 seconds, which allowed him to qualify for state by a fairly comfortable margin.