Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.
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The Hastings Raiders boys' swimming and diving team had its meet against the Simley Spartans come down to the very last event, the 400-meter freestyle relay. The Spartans edged out the Raiders 94-92 as Hastings was not able to finish first and third in the event to win it. Despite the loss, Hastings was able to win eight-out-of-12 events and, in that 400 freestyle relay, the team of John Rupp, Joe Everson, Jack Gergen and Avery Stoffel beat their best time of the season by three seconds according to head coach Gerry Rupp.
The Hastings Raiders girls' hockey team won their last three games of the regular season to head into the section playoffs with confidence and momentum. One of those wins was over Rosemount, which helped the Raiders clinch the seventh-seed in section 3AA over the Irish, who are the bottom seed.
The Hastings Raiders boys' hockey team knows that the next few weeks to wrap up the regular season will be huge in regards to their section fortunes. Hastings moves to section 1AA this year, joining schools like Farmington and the three Rochester schools. Winners of two of the last four, a turnaround at this time is important for the Raiders to gain momentum and avoid a bottom seed come section playoffs. Currently, Hastings is 4-14-1 and 3-8-0 in the Metro East Conference.
The Hastings Raiders boys' basketball team continued to play some of its best ball of the season last week as they won their second game in a row over Henry Sibley at home on Coaches vs. Cancer Night. The Raiders beat the Warriors 81-72 in a game that did not seem that close to get back to .500 on the season (8-8) and 5-3 in the Metro East Conference, which puts them in sole possession of fourth place and just a half game out of second.
The Hastings boys and girls alpine ski teams have each won the last two Metro East Conference meets and both continue to improve. The boys, led by last year's state-qualifier Jacob Peine, are outdistancing their opponents by over 50 points. The girls, after a slightly inconsistent start, are rounding into form with their returning state qualifiers in Kayla Boogren, Josie Pechous and Shannon O'Connor, with Mahtomedi not far behind them.
State champions in 1996. Runners-up in 1998 and 2007. Three third-place finishes and three consolation championships. Twelve team state appearances. Eighteen conference championships. Numerous all-state wrestlers and countless all-conference.
Once again this year, the Hastings boys and girls nordic ski teams have battled poor weather for racing, though hopefully the recent snowfall helps. "It's been a rollercoaster season," head coach John Dewall said. "It's been frustrating with no snow, and then you're scrambling to go to man-made snow. We typically go over to Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington. You need to be skiing, so a lot of practices have been there. And then along with that, we've had just brutal cold. So between the combination of no snow and brutal cold, I think it's a tougher year than last year."
Former Hastings girls' hockey head coach Jeff Corkish, who coached the team for 17 years and helped build the program into what it is today, will be inducted into the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the end of the season. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, Feb. 22, at Herbies in the Park between the afternoon and evening sessions of the Minnesota State High School League girls' state hockey tournament. Coming to Hastings
December was a fast month for the Hastings Area Swim Team. HAST swimmers had the opportunity to swim in three meets during the month: the Northfield Winter is Coming Invite Dec. 2-3, the BAC Holiday Classic Swim Meet Dec. 9-10 and the HAST Conf. C/Pre C Meet Dec. 15.