The Hastings Raiders wrestling time is finally rounding into shape after battling injuries, sickness and trying to find replacements for the wrestlers who left after last year's fourth-place finish at state. The Raiders beat two solid teams in River Falls (Wis.) and Totino-Grace last week in a pair of duals on Friday, Jan. 19, and also honored the achievements of its youth program.
Hastings started off the night with a 47-22 win over the River Falls Wildcats that was never really in question. The Raiders saw some real production in its lower weights with wins from John and Paul Kendall, Croix Mader, Jesse Mimbach and Mac Wilson. That is one area that has given Hastings trouble so far this season, getting the wins it needs out of its lower weights to allow its upper weights (the strength of the lineup) to close matches out. Hastings built a 28-5 lead before the Wildcats won their second match and it was a foregone conclusion from there. Besides the five previously mentioned wrestlers, the Raiders also got wins from Alex O'Connor, Godswill Pepple, T.J. Pottinger and Trey Rogers.
The dual against the Totino-Grace Eagles was much closer. Both teams battled in the lower weights but the Eagles were able to build a 22-7 lead. After that, Hastings won six-straight matches in its middle and upper weights to bring home the win, 37-25. Getting wins for the Raiders were John Kendall, Wilson, Corbin Leflay (forfeit), Travis Frias, O'Connor, Pepple, Pottinger and Rogers. John Kendall, Wilson, O'Connor, Pottinger, Pepple, and Rogers all went undefeated on the night.
Head coach Josh McLay said he was very happy with how his kids wrestled in the two duals.
"The kids wrestled really well. I'm happy with how they stepped up all the way through the lineup," he said. "Travis Frias, the kid he beat is ranked at 152 pounds in whatever class Totino is in. So they avoided Corbin (Leflay) and (Frias) made them pay for it. T.J. Pottinger bumping up (in weight) and wrestling some big kids who were tough, and Trey bumping up and wrestling one of their best guys and tech falling him, that kid is a big kid and Trey just manhandled him, which is nice. Gosh, Mac Wilson looked tough today, and John Kendall has just been wrestling great too."
McLay continued to say that it feels great to be able to insert his wrestlers back into the lineup after several have battled injuries and illness this season.
"This feels good, to get more and more of these kids back in the lineup," he said. "It was a bummer that Corbin didn't get to wrestle tonight. I wanted to wrestle him in both (matches) but both kids were ranked kids and I didn't want to burn him out on one of the matches. Totino we knew would be a little closer, so I wanted to make sure he was ready for that one but it kind of backfired when they bumped up away from him."
McLay also said that Drake Guck wrestled for the first time in weeks and will be knocking off some rust before sections.
The Raiders travel to St. Thomas Academy on Thursday, Jan. 25, and then go to Bloomington Kennedy on Saturday, Jan. 27. From there they have just three duals/tournaments left until section tournaments start.