The 2018-19 season will be drastically different from last year for the Hastings Raiders boys' and girls' alpine ski teams. Last year both teams went to the state tournament but they return just one member from each team-senior Alexa Kimmes for the girls and junior Sam Molitor for the boys.
"It's changed dramatically," head coach Jim Peine said about the difference between last year's teams and this season's. "We had 13 kids graduate last year, I have one returning boy and one returning girl who was on the section team, so it's a huge difference this year. The good news is I graduated 13 and I've got 16 new kids coming. It's kind of a nice thing, we're kind of rebuilding."
Other returners from last year's varsity teams are juniors Nicole Reents and Thomas Karnick. Kimmes, Reents, Molitor and Karnick are the four captains for this season as well.
Peine said that with such a young team, he and his coaching staff (which includes two new assistant coaches) will have to change tactics from years past and focus more on the basics.
"Now we're going to try to get the kids good experience, the new kids, we're going to try and do a few more invitationals just to get the kids a little more experience," he said. "I remember when the group that graduated last year first came on we were kind of in that same situation where we graduated a lot but had quite a few that just joined."
The Raiders will have 36 total skiers this winter, though Peine did say that some of them do have previous racing experience. Despite their youth, he also said he still expects both teams to be able to send representatives to the state tournament at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
"Yeah, continual improvement, but I think we still have enough talent that we can get maybe two boys and maybe a couple of girls to state," Peine said. "Even though we're a little young we still have some good talent coming up and I think we still can do that."
The Raiders will have one meet in December to get the varsity teams some much-needed experience before the rest of the season starts after the New Year. Their first Metro East Conference meet is on Jan. 8 at Welch Village with the Raiders hosting, and three days later will host the Welch Invitational.