The Hastings Raiders nordic skiing teams have rebounded this winter after suffering low numbers last season and return several experienced skiers, including junior Trevor Caflisch who qualified for last year's state tournament.
"We've got more numbers, we have about 25 total boys and girls," head coach John Dewall said. "So we've definitely got more numbers to work with, a lot of young kids which is awesome. It's pretty exciting when you have new kids and they're all excited about learning a new sport."
Some of the returners alongside Caflisch for the boys' varsity squad are senior Ben Bratvold and sophomore Sam Rabaey. For the girls, there are sophomores Linnea Urban and Emma Bratvold and eighth-graders Abigail Bratvold and Molly Caturia. Dewall said that Caflisch and Urban in particular have made great strides since last season as they trained for nordic throughout the summer.
Outside of those who return to this year's varsity, the Raiders are very young with plenty of new skiers of varying ability. Dewall talked about the challenges teaching so many different skill levels poses throughout the season.
"We have a lot of kids who are in that middle zone who hopefully throughout the season will improve," he said. "If we get some early snow it will hugely advantageous, it's hard when you don't have snow and you literally are into the racing season in January and you haven't had a lot of snow."
"The bottom line is you got to have fun, it's hard training no matter what you're doing," Dewall said about keeping training fresh, especially when there is no snow. "You diversify your practices, we have a group of kids that run, a group of kids that roller ski, a group of kids that rollerblade. So it's really mixed up a lot when we have a lot of people doing different things. We did snow soccer last week."
For goals this upcoming season, Dewall said that they remain the same as every other year.
"Goals are obviously placing well in the conference and sections and going on to the state meet, I think that's a goal for some of those top kids," he said. "I know Trevor has been there and his goal is to get back, (and) my goal for him is to finish in the top-25, which would be a real solid goal. It's definitely possible."
This season's schedule, as with every other year, is subject to the weather and snow. However, Dewall said that two meets are locked in for sure, the conference and section meets held at Hyland Park Reserve.
The Raiders start their competition season on Dec. 11 at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, weather and snow permitting. They have one more meet in December before the bulk of their schedule in January.