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 boys' tennis team opened its season last week against East Ridge, in what was an immediate litmus test for the Raiders. Hastings was swept by the Raptors, who won each singles match, two out of three doubles matches and are considered one of the best teams in the state coming into this season. "We broke past the mystique factor of East Ridge a bit," head coach Michael Willette said. "We know we can compete with them and now we need to go about the business of getting better."
The Hastings softball team is focused on making the state tournament this year for the fifth time in 11 years. Last season, the Raiders went 14-7 overall, took second place in the Metro East Conference behind North St. Paul and were bounced by Eagan in the section playoffs. This year, head coach Ken Lundquist said all of their goals geared toward making it to state.
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.