Heading into the 2018 cross country season, the Hastings boys' and girls' cross-country teams could not be in more different situations. The boys' team has decent numbers out and a lot of new runners on top of some returning, while the girls' are very low on numbers, with only four in attendance at a recent practice.
"On the guys' side, we have a lot of new runners," head coach John Dewall said. "A lot of ninth and 10th graders, which is really good to have. Then we've got guys like Luke Harris, Eric Howd and then Griffin's (Griffin Myers, a runner who graduated last year) younger brother Nolan, who have really stepped in in the first few days of the workouts."
Also returning for the boys are senior captain Austin Weeks, Josh Wilson and Isaac Huntington.
However, those numbers are not reflected on the girls' side, which returns some experienced runners in Linnea Urban and Megan Mattson.
"Right now we're very short of girls," Dewall said. "Linnea Urban, she's our solid, solid girl who has done tons of training in the summer, so hopefully she will have a great season. She'll definitely be a leader, and Megan Mattson, she'll be really good. Those two are very, very solid, looking forward to have both those two back. Molly Caturia is a new girl out, she'll be pretty solid as time goes on. But we'll pick up some here as we go on, there are some who are not signed up yet."
There are no significant changes to the Raiders' schedule this season, which Dewall says is on purpose as the athletes are very comfortable with the current races. There will be no Metro East Invite this year, which Dewall said is good as it has been in the same week as a race in Rochester, which he said can be tough on the team.
Dewall said that the goals for both teams are to finish as high in the Metro East Conference as possible and for everyone to improve and be running their best at the end of the season.
Both teams start their competition season with the Irish Invite in Rosemount on Aug. 31, one of the largest meets they will compete in all season. They will then host numerous area teams on Sept. 6 at St. Croix Regional Park. The Metro East Conference Championships are Oct. 16 at St. Croix Regional Park, sections are in Owatonna on Oct. 25 and state is at St. Olaf College on Nov. 3.