Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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Hastings track coaches figured the way the weather was going, their one and only home meet of the season was going to be canceled. It was planned for Thursday, April 7, and the team hadn't even been outside to practice. It turned out, though, that the weather cooperated for the first time this spring and the meet went off without a hitch. "It was our first time outside this year," girls coach Greg Sandkamp said. "We just wanted to get the kids out there to see what they could do.
The Hastings High School softball team has picked up where it left off last season. The Raiders opened their season Monday with a 4-0 win over Woodbury. Hastings has back-to-back third-place finishes at the state meet, and is looking to win another conference title again this year. That won't be easy, as the team lost 11 seniors to graduation from last year's team, but coach Dean Robinson was thrilled with what he saw from his team in the opener. "There were a lot of girls in the game on Monday who weren't starters last year, who stepped in and played their roles well," Robinson said.
Admission to spring sporting events at Hastings High School is free. Had those in attendance at Monday's season-opening game between Hastings and White Bear Lake been charged to get in, though, they would have definitely got their money's worth. The game went into extra innings and lasted three hours and 45 minutes. It began at 4:15 p.m. and didn't conclude until 8 p.m.
Collector Steve Bauer and his family announced Monday, April 11, that they were bringing the longtime St. Paul landmark restaurant, Porky's, to Hastings. Bauer and his wife, Sylvia, and their family operate the Little Log House Pioneer Village here. They will add Porky's to their collection of buildings. Porky's operated as a popular drive-in diner on University Avenue until April 3, when it closed. "It's such an important part of the community," he said Monday. "To see this thing go into a Dumpster, it's not what should be done to stuff like this.
Last weekend, the first Hastings Family Expo was held at Schoolhouse Square. From the sound of it, it was a good first effort, and everyone here is hoping the event takes off. One nearby community, Woodbury, has an expo that the Hastings organizers are likely striving to equal. The annual Woodbury Community Expo is planned for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There's plenty of good news surrounding the Hastings boys tennis team. There's also some bad news. First, the good: Hastings has three of its top four singles players back from last year's team, including the No. 1 player. The bad news? Five seniors were lost to graduation, including four who played at doubles, leaving a big hole there. Coach Mick Willette is counting on the good news outweighing the bad for the Raiders. "We have a lot of raw talent on the team, and a lot of young guys," Willette said. "Really, I just want to see a lot of improvement this year.
The goals are the same, but many of the faces are different for this year's Hastings High School softball team. The Raiders graduated 11 players from last year's team, but the Raiders are hoping to earn their third-straight conference title, their fourth-straight section title and to get back to the state tournament. Hastings placed third at the state tournament the last two seasons. "We're definitely shooting to be conference champs, and then section champs," coach Dean Robinson said. "We want to get to the state tournament for the fourth year in a row.
Down the stretch last season, the Hastings boys baseball team played its best ball of the season. Hastings coach Paul Hartmann is hoping to pick up this season where last year left off - by winning. Hastings returns two experienced pitchers, a number of experienced position players and their top hitter from last year's team. "We need to find some more depth in our pitching staff," Hartmann said. "We know if we throw the ball well and play good defense, like we did at the end of last year, you can play with anybody. The last five games last year, we didn't have any errors.
It's not uncommon for track coaches to have more sophomores on a team than seniors. What Hastings girls coach Greg Sandkamp is seeing, though, goes well beyond that. On a team of 60, Sandkamp has five returning seniors and eight juniors. The rest of the girls are either freshmen or sophomores. The freshmen class alone has 30 girls competing for the Raiders. "We're young, and we're working hard," Sandkamp said. "I'm pretty excited to see where they'll all go. I'm just excited about our numbers again.
When the Hastings boys and girls track teams get ready for each day of practice by warming up in the HHS gymnasium, it's a beautiful sight for boys coach Jason Koch. The gym is filled with athletes. "It's so exciting to see that we have so many kids, we fill the gym during our warm-ups," he said. "Hopefully we can maintain that in the years to come." Koch expects about 60 boys to be on the team this year. "That has grown significantly over the past few years," he said. "A few years ago, we were in the 40s. We want to stay in the 60s.