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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Coming off last season, when the Hastings boys' golf team took fourth in conference and sections, the Raiders look to use their experience this year to improve upon those finishes. Hastings brings back five golfers who golfed on varsity last season, led by junior Nick Dittrich, who tied for 20th last season at the state tournament. "Nick Dittrich is a junior who has been all-conference the past two years and placed 20th in the state tournament last year," head coach Pete McGinnis said. "Nick is a tremendous leader who spends a lot of time working on his game."
Head coach Mick Willette said the Raiders' success was not unexpected last season, but a year later, even he still seemed pleasantly surprised with what they did.
The Hastings girls' lacrosse program, while still young, hopes to continue to grow and take the next step this season under second-year head coach Laurie Aaronson. Last season, the Raiders really developed under Aaronson's guidance as they played more games and were more competitive than any other season before.
The Hastings Raiders' baseball team moved into section 3AAAA last season, but they had a senior-laden squad to help navigate the new waters. However, entering their second season in a tough section, they will have to overcome their own inexperience; last season's team graduated 17 seniors from last season.
Hastings' senior swimmer Aaron McCullough has been named an academic All-American by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America, per his coach Gerry Rupp.
The Hastings boys' basketball team did not have a goal of a certain number of wins as they entered this past season, but rather to take care of business against the teams they should beat and steal some from teams they should not. "We had the cliché goals of improving throughout the season and to be competitive in the conference and section races," head coach Chad Feikema said. "More specifically, I wanted to win all of our 'should win' games, all of our 'could win' games, and then get an upset or two against some of the top-level teams on our schedule.
Hastings' own Luke Larson and Colin Sieh will play in one of Minnesota's greatest hockey traditions, the CCM High Performance Ted Brill Great 8 hockey tournament. The Ted Brill Great 8 has been held for more than 30 years and allows the top high school players in Minnesota to showcase their talents in front of coaches and scouts from colleges, junior leagues and professional teams.
The Hastings girls' basketball team took a step forward this season when they won their first section playoff game against Park after losing in the opening round to Rosemount last year. Getting into the second round was a goal of the Raiders heading into this season.
The Hastings gymnastics team finished up their season after taking fifth out of seven teams in the Metro East Conference. The team's highest score this year was 123.4 and head coach Jeanne Kasel said her team really worked hard down the stretch at the end of the season.
The Hastings girls' hockey team finished their season after a section playoff loss to Eagan, but once again proved they were one of the best teams in the Metro East Conference (MEC) with a 7-4-0 record in conference (8-17-1 overall). "We had the second-best record behind only Hill-Murray, which was our goal going into the season," head coach Josh Colvin said. "Our goal was to be competitive in every game, but in section play we struggled to keep up with some of the teams, so we will need to improve that for next year."