Over the past weeks - and in the upcoming weeks - we've had the privilege of reporting on several local student athletes who have made it to state tournaments in their various sports.

This week, we dedicate this space to them and say congratulations.

This season's state competitors are Jacob Peine, Shannon O'Connor, Josie Pechous and Kayla Boogren in alpine skiing; Vova Tipler, John Rupp, Aaron McCullough, Carter Williams and Jack Gergen in boys' swimming and diving; and Paul Kendall, Croix Mader, Jesse Mimbach, Adam McSorley, Kyle Erickson, T.J. Pottinger, Trey Rogers, Josh Miser and Jackson Schichel in the individual wrestling tournament. The rest of the wrestling team will also be making an appearance, as the Raiders qualified as a team for state as well.

That's a pretty good list of athletes, and it's not uncommon for Hastings. Almost every season, Hastings High School is able to send student athletes to compete against their peers from across the state. That's no easy feat. According to the Minnesota State High School League, about 300,000 student athletes compete in MSHSL programs each year. About 90,000 - less than one-third - participate in state tournament events.

To overcome that kind of competition, it takes a lot of hard work; students often spend years learning their chosen sport or sports, practicing skills and developing their physical fitness. It takes a lot of dedication, to keep pushing when the exhaustion sets in, when the practice becomes boring and when other activities promise more entertainment or less physical effort. And it takes a lot of patience and positive thinking to not give up at one loss or the next and to trust that the years of hard work will eventually pay off.

The level of physical and mental effort and persistence youth athletes display is greater than that of many adults. We think that's worthy of at least a little admiration. So congratulations to all our student athletes. And keep up the great work.