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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While the Farmington Tigers wrestling team had a great deal of success this season, one individual's biggest accomplishment came off of the mat. Over the past two years, Matt Clark has embodied the Tigers' mission to develop young men not only as wrestlers, but off the mat as well.
Hastings wrestling has a rich history, but it had been lacking until the end of December when seventh-grader Skyler Little Soldier became the first Hastings female wrestler to record a varsity takedown, pin and win in the history of the program. Little Soldier wrestled at the Bi-State Classic Dec. 28-29 in the 113-pound weight class and went 1-2 in the tournament. All three of the records she set came in her second match against Gabe Weiks of Athens when she got a takedown and then pinned Weiks 44 seconds into the third period.
The East Ridge Raptors girls' lacrosse team is coming off their best season since 2014, going 10-3 last season and advancing to the third round of sections, not mention having the program continue to grow.
The East Ridge Raptors softball team returns three seniors and a core group from last year's team that went 9-11 in the regular season before losing in the first two games of the section playoffs. "Last season we made a big leap forward as far as where we want to go as a program," said head coach Afton Murray. "We had some ups and downs with wins and loses, but overall played as a team and (we) are going to use the success from last year to move forward."
The East Ridge Raptors baseball team is coming off a very successful season where it finished as section 3AAAA runners-up after winning their first three games of the playoffs. The Raptors went 13-7 overall in the regular season, 9-7 in the Suburban East Conference and then won three straight playoff games against Hastings, Eastview and Rosemount. The Raptors were then eliminated by Burnsville in two games in the section championship.
The East Ridge Raptors boys' lacrosse team is going into their second year under head coach Steve Van Sloun. After going 9-4 the year before, the Raptors went 4-9 last season as the program transitioned to the new coaching staff. "Last year was our first year with the program, so there were some changes and growing pains for everyone," Sloun said. "We had a young team that learned quickly. The prior coaching staff lead the program to a lot of success, so we're trying to build on that while bringing our own approach and philosophy to the game."
The East Ridge Raptors boys' tennis team had about as good of a season last year as any team could. They cruised through the section playoffs before making a run to the state finals. "We ended up making it to the finals and losing 4-3 to Minnetonka, so it doesn't get much closer than that," head coach Suzie Heideman said. "We lost in three sets in the deciding match. We definitely had our chance and it was just a really exciting season with a lot of seniors who had worked really hard to get to where they were."
The East Ridge Raptors girls' track and field team is coming off a season where they were able to send their 4x200 relay and several individuals to the state tournament. Despite a disappointing disqualification for the relay team, Allyson Weiss became the state champion in the triple jump, Ansley Schug ended up on the podium in two events and Alex Doty placed fourth in the 200-meter dash. This season, the Raptors return a portion of those who made the state tournament last year, but otherwise are very young.
The East Ridge Raptors girls golf team will be very young this season with just four seniors and three juniors leading a group of 28 underclassmen. The team also lost key varsity contributors from last year in Megan Youngstrom and Hannah Groch. But head coach Kathy Madden said they will find players to step up and that the program continues to grow and evolve.
HASTINGS — The East Ridge Raptors boys basketball team's historic season came to an end Thursday night in the section 4AAAA section finals against Cretin-Derham Hall to go to state. The Raptors lost 62-52 in East Ridge's very first time playing in a section final.