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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Regular season golf meets don't get much bigger than the one the Hastings Raiders played in over the weekend. In the two-day, 24-team Tri-State Invitational, featuring some of the top teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, Hastings had two golfers place in the top 17. Alex Wagner, a Hastings High School sophomore, placed sixth overall with a two-day total of 147. Par was 142.
Talk about a nice start! How does 5-0 sound? And talk about a wild finish! How does a two-run rally in the bottom of the 10th sound? Yes, it was quite a week indeed for the Hastings softball team. The Raiders improved to 5-0 overall with three wins in seven days, including Monday's extra-inning affair against Park. The score was 0-0 in the 10th, and Park came up to bat in the top half of the inning. They scored one run, so it was do or die time for the Raiders. Linnea Haler led off the inning with a walk. Shawna Middleton hit a ball over the shortstop's head.
Encouraging signs were all over the place Thursday for the Hastings High School boys track team. The Raiders won five events at a meet in Cottage Grove, their first outdoor action of the season. Kyle Francis won the pole vault, clearing 12-6. "That's a good early start for him," HHS coach Jason Koch said. "Last year he went 13-6. We got some new poles for him this year. Hopefully he can take it up a little higher and get up to 14 feet, at least, this year and get a trip to state." Dan Guelle had a great day on the track and in the field events.
The 2009 spring season isn't off to the best of starts for the Hastings High School baseball team, but Raiders coach Paul Hartmann still has high hopes for the team. He's encouraged by what he saw from his team in a close 7-6 loss to Forest Lake April 9. The Raiders fell behind 5-0 to Forest Lake before battling back. "We got off to a poor start," Hartmann said, "but our guys did a very nice job of battling back. Our guys really showed a lot of heart. They showed some resilience.
Heading into the Hastings golf season, it looks like the boys high school team should have a great season. And, if what Alex Wagner did a couple weeks ago is any indication, those high hopes are realistic. Wagner had a hole-in-one during tryouts at Bellwood Oaks. He aced the fourth hole using a pitching wedge. Not a bad way to secure a spot on the varsity roster, eh? More good stuff: Shea Sajevic, Hastings, is a first baseman on the Augsburg College baseball team.
New Hastings boys track coach Jason Koch should have plenty of credibility with members of his team. The Hastings High School biology and chemistry teacher is just a few years removed from a very successful collegiate track and football career at St. Cloud State University. Koch owns a school record at SCSU and was a decathlete. Koch spent last season as an assistant to Joe Haas. When Haas accepted the position of athletics director at Delano, Koch went for the Hastings job and landed it. "It's something I've always wanted to do," he said. "I've always wanted to be a head track coach.
What a way to start the season. Last Tuesday, Hastings High School and Cretin-Derham Hall kicked off the 2009 spring softball season with a bang. In the end, Hastings emerged as the winner of a wild, 6-5, game. The Raiders trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, and things didn't look good as the first two Hastings batters were retired. But with two outs, Hastings began a rally, thanks to a walk drawn by Britt Robinson. A wild pitch moved Robinson to second. With a 1-2 count, Linnea Haler hit a blooper over the third baseman's head.
The Hastings boys tennis team improved its record to 3-1 overall with a pair of wins. Hastings beat Farmington on Monday, 7-0, and beat Forest Lake last week, 4-3. In the win over Farmington, Hastings High School coach Mick Willette actually left his top two singles players home, and his top two doubles teams stayed in Hastings as well. Still, the Raiders cruised to the win. "It worked out pretty well," Willette said. "We got to see some of the younger guys from the junior varsity. " Ben Carlson played first singles and won 6-2, 6-0.
During her freshman year at Hastings High School, Carlin Bunting saw her role model win the Athena Award. As Bunting was growing up, her family and Lauren Stoneberg's family were close friends. Over the years, Bunting watched Stoneberg in athletics, and watched her out of athletics. Then came the Athena Award for Stoneberg. Four years later, it is Bunting who is Hastings' Athena Award winner. "I started crying when I found out I won it," Bunting said.
With fewer than 35 athletes out for the girls track team this spring, depth certainly isn't going to be a strong suit for the Hastings High School team. That said, it appears the Raiders will have plenty of top-end athletes capable of winning events. At last week's five-team meet at Park in Cottage Grove, the Raiders had two first-place finishes and several top five placewinners. "We're not going to have a lot of depth," HHS coach Greg Sandkamp said. "We're not going to fill things up at big meets, but we did have some really good performances for this early in the season.