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Hastings boys' swimming takes giant step forward during season

The Raiders boys' swim team was very young this past season and will not have any upperclassmen next year. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Freshman Hudson Doty earned his first varsity letter this swim season. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Freshman Liam Shelhamer was voted the team's Most Improved at the end of the season. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

This past season was a difficult one for the Hastings boys' swimming and diving team as they competed with a small senior class and no junior class at all. The Raiders had 13 swimmers who were freshmen or younger, which was weighed against five seniors and seven sophomores. Despite that youth, head coach Gerry Rupp said that his team improved immensely over the course of the past year.

"We've grown quite a bit, you know we had so many young guys on our roster, and with no junior class the middle schoolers had to grow up fast," he said. 'They did a very good progression and they're getting very close to being competitive at the varsity level."

Rupp said it was a difficult year for the seniors (John Rupp, Jackson Gergen, Christopher Benson, Vova Tipler and Carter Williams) on the team with the lack of competitiveness, but the coaches and team were able to help Rupp and Gergen qualify for state in two events each.

"Having this group of seniors this year was kind of special, they've been with me all the way through since seventh grade and it's just nice to be able to see them finish out their senior years and go out on a positive note," he said.

Outside of of those seniors, Rupp did say that there were a few swimmers who stood out this past season.

"Two guys come to mind in particular. Joe Everson is an ninth-grader and he earned hardest worker award on our team at the end of the season just by the dedication of what he puts into practices," he said. "Another person who has really stood out is Philip Jensen. As an eighth-grader he is fast becoming competitive at that varsity level. With another year of growth and maturity it's going to be fun to watch him."

"Two other guys who really stepped up this year were Liam Shelhamer and Hudson Doty," Rupp said. "Liam was given the most-improved award this year and both he and Hudson earned their first varsity letters. They stood out practice-wise and in the way they competed, especially at the end of the season."

Looking to next year, it will be a unique dynamic for Rupp and his fellow coaches in coaching a team with seniors, who tend to be the natural leaders.

"I see a couple guys, that just by their work ethic are showing their own type of leadership, again with Everson in particular and William Jensen is doing it in a quiet fashion," Rupp said. "I think as a whole, the coaching staff next year is really going to have to show these boys what it means to be a leader, how to lead by example, how to bring in a positive mindset and encourage teammates.That is something we will need to teach them next year."

Alec Hamilton

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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