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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The Hastings Raiders boys' swimming and diving team hosted Section 1AA foe the Farmington Tigers Tuesday evening at Hastings Middle School. The Raiders fell 96-88 to the Tigers and won just two events—before Farmington swam the 400 freestyle relay as an exhibition—but racked up most of their points with plenty of second and third-place finishes. Winning for Hastings were the 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Philip Jensen, junior William Jensen, sophomore Joe Everson and freshman John Destross with a time of 1 minute, 48.45 seconds, and then sophomore Avery Stoffel in the 50 freestyle in 23.74.
The Hastings Raiders boys' swimming and diving team blew the South St. Paul Packers out of the pool Thursday night at Hastings Middle School. Despite it being their first competition in over two weeks due to the holiday break, the Raiders still won eight of the first 10 events before swimming the last two as exhibitions. Despite conceding the last two events, Hastings still outscored the Packers 92-78 in just their second home meet of the season.
The Hastings Raider wrestling team changed things up during the holidays this season and went to La Crosse, Wis., for the Bi-State Classic Dec. 28-29 rather than compete at The Clash in Rochester a week later. The Raiders finished seventh with 193 team points out of a field 25 teams in Division I (Wisconsin's equivalent of Minnesota's Class 3A) and would have taken ninth out of the entire tournament, which featured almost 70 teams. Six Hastings wrestlers placed in their brackets and seventh-grader Skylar Little Soldier made history for the Raider wrestling program as she became the first female wrestler to record a varsity takedown, pin and win for Hastings.
Hastings junior Trevor Caflisch is in the middle of the Raiders' nordic skiing season and continued his dedication over the holiday break. Caflisch competed in three nordic ski races and came home with a trio of top-five finishes. He raced in the Winter Warm-Up in Elm Creek on Dec. 22 and took second and then spent two days in Hayward, Wis., where he won the Spooner Holiday Dash on Dec. 28 and finished fourth in the Double Pole Derby on Dec. 29.
Skiing needs snow and snow is one thing in short supply over the last few weeks. The Hastings boys' and girls' nordic ski teams were able to compete before the holidays started at Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Golden Valley for a Metro East Conference meet. The boys were runners-up with 443 points behind Henry Sibley while the girls finished third with 423 points behind Mahtomedi and Henry Sibley. Sophomore Linnea Urban took first in the girls' race with a time of 13 minutes on the dot and junior Trevor Caflisch won the boys race in 12 minutes, 43 seconds.
The Hastings Raiders boys' and girls' alpine skiing teams opened their competition Dec. 21 at the 2018 Wild Invite held at Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls. The girls finished in 15th with 365 points out of 24 teams while the boys were runners-up with 493 points, just eight points behind the winner Brainerd. Senior Alexa Kimmes was the top finisher for the girls in 15th with a combined time of 1 minute, 14.19 seconds, while junior Sam Molitor took ninth overall with a time of 1:04.10.
The Hastings Raiders girls' hockey team has had an up-and-down season so far and that continued as they competed in the Louis Schmitz Holiday Classic at Schmitz-Maki Arena in Farmington. The Raiders—winners of two of their last three games—went 0-3 in the tournament with losses to host Farmington, Lakeville North and Hutchinson. With the losses, Hastings is now 5-9-1 with 10 games left and they sit at 1-2-1 in the Metro East Conference.
The Hastings Raiders boys' hockey team continued its tremendous play at the South St. Paul Premier Tournament Dec. 26-28 and they came away with the tournament championship. The Raiders faced tough competition throughout as they beat host South St. Paul, Woodbury and Eagan. With the three consecutive wins Hastings is now 8-2 overall and tied atop the Metro East Conference with Hill-Murray. The Raiders' next game is home against Owatonna on Saturday, Jan. 5.
The Hastings Raiders boys' basketball team started the season off 2-1 and with wins over Red Wing and Park, but since then they have lost five in a row, most of which were non-conference match-ups. They were edged out by Eagan 72-68, lost to Eastview 78-68 and fell to Rosemount 82-63 Dec. 21, all on the road. Hastings then came home to host their annual holiday tournament but lost in the first round to Irondale 83-65 on Thursday, Dec. 27. The Raiders are 2-6 overall and head into the heart of Metro East Conference play after the New Year.
The past year saw Hastings Raiders athletics achieve great things both on and off the field of play. From state championships to new records and hall of fame inductions to saving lives, it has been a memorable 2018 for Raiders sports teams. There were so many stories that could have made this list, but check out below 10 of the best sports stories of 2018: