The Hastings Raiders girls’ swimming and diving team has picked up where they left off last year with victories in their first four events.

As usual, the Raiders started the season with the Metro East Conference Relays on Aug. 29 where they won eight of the nine events and set five team records.

They hosted North St. Paul to kick off Metro East Conference action on Sept. 5 and routed the Polars 90-63. That Saturday, Sept. 7, Hastings hosted a home invitational and took first by almost a 100 points. Then this past Tuesday, Sept. 10, they had a home meet against Farmington and beat a strong Tiger team 98-88.

At the conference relays, head coach Katie McAlpin said that freshman Ava McNamara really stood out.

“Last year Ava was a swimmer and diver,” she said. “We needed her to do both. This year she has shown us that she is a swimmer! She has learned that fire to win and do what it takes to race.”

McNamara was part of two of the five record-setting relays as the Raiders nearly swept every event.

Against North St. Paul, McAlpin said that it was a good opportunity to move girls around let them try different events. Despite the changes, the Raiders still won by 27 points and won the first six events before swimming the rest as exhibition.

“(The) swimmer of the meet was (seventh grader) Kira Aarness,” McAlpin said. “Kira is our new distance swimmer. At this meet we were able to put her in other events and see what she can do. She definitely impressed!”

Hastings hosted Woodbury, St. Paul Highland Park, North St. Paul, Mahtomedi and Henry Sibley for their annual Hastings Invitational on Sept. 7. On their way to running away with the event, the Raiders won nine out of the 12 events and had high finishes in the other three. McAlpin said that the winners of each event received a “goodie bag” which provided a little more incentive for the swimmers.

The team of sophomore Kendal Jenkins, senior Katie Gjelhaug, Aarness and senior Shannon McCullough won the 200-meter medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 57.54 seconds. Sophomore Kendra Kosmoski took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:02.60, eighth grader Ashtyn Stewart won the 50 and 100 freestyle in 25.22 and 55.79 respectively, and fellow eighth grader Lauren Jenkins placed first in the 100 butterfly (1:03.09).

The 200 freestyle relay team of Stewart, McNamara, Lauren Jenkins and Kosmoski took first with a time of 1:45.43, Kendal Jenkins won the 100 backstroke in 1:02.41, McNamara was the winner of the 100 breaststroke (1:13.97) and the 400 freestyle relay team of Kosmoski, Stewart, Aarness and Kendal Jenkins took first in 3:50.66.

Eighth grader Ashtyn Stewart won the 50-and-100-meter freestyle races against Farmington to help the Raiders secure their win on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Hastings Middle School Pool. She is also a key part of several of their relays. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia
Eighth grader Ashtyn Stewart won the 50-and-100-meter freestyle races against Farmington to help the Raiders secure their win on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Hastings Middle School Pool. She is also a key part of several of their relays. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

Finally, the home dual against Farmington on Tuesday, Sept. 10, was the Raiders first test of the season. McAlpin said she knew it would be a tough meet and after the diving portion midway through Hastings trailed. It eventually came down to the final relay -- which the Raiders needed to win -- and they did.

“The team we have this year is phenomenal at coming together in the water,” she said.

Hastings first win in an event came during the 50 freestyle right before the diving, which Stewart took first in with a time of 25.27. Lauren Jenkins won the 100 butterfly after the diving with a time of 1:02.12, which helped start the Raider comeback. Stewart then took the 100 freestyle in 54.76, the 200 freestyle relay team of Stewart, McNamara, Kosmoski and Lauren Jenkins won with a time of 1:42.87 and Kendal Jenkins finished first in the 100 backstroke (1:02.64). The relay team that sealed the win for the Raiders was Kosmoski, Kendal Jenkins, McNamara and Stewart with a time of 3:44.60, more than 3 seconds ahead of second place.

Runners-up were the 200 medley relay team of Lauren Jenkins, Gjelhaug, McCullough and Kendal Jenkins with a time of 2:00.60; McNamara in the 200 freestyle in 2:06.58, Lauren Jenkins in the 200 individual medley (2:19.71) and Kendal Jenkins behind Stewart in the 50 freestyle with a time of 26.47. Then there was senior Lauren Ruder in the 1-meter dive with a score of 173.65, Gjelhaug in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:03.41, Kosmoski finished second behind Stewart in the 100 freestyle in 56.68 and Aarness placed second in the 500 freestyle (5:38.56).

Hastings traveled to Simley on Thursday, Sept. 12, and will host South St. Paul on Thursday, Sept. 19.