Two years ago, the Hastings Raiders boys’ swimming and diving team had just a few seniors as the only upperclassmen and tons of youth. Last year, they still had plenty of youth and no seniors. But finally, the Raiders are ready to come of age as they return swimmers with plenty of varsity experience and the age to match.

“We’re getting closer every year to being up more in that competitive route there,” head coach Gerry Rupp said. “This year we have five seniors returning, so it’s nice to get some upper-class leadership, all returners, and kind of a mixed bag of talent level there, but everything definitely is going to help out for the dual meet season.”

Those five seniors are Tyler Sorenson, William Jensen, Isaac Huntington, Evan Scully and Daniel Brown. They are joined by plenty of experienced underclassmen in sophomore Philip Jensen, junior Liam Shelhamer, junior Avery Stoffel, junior Joe Everson, eighth-grader Caleb Urban, junior Hudson Doty, sophomore John Destross and junior Ryan Lester.

“This morning was day one, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Avery Stoffel can do this year,” Rupp said. “He had a good summer season of training, another person I’m looking forward to seeing is Caleb Urban. Of course you know with Linnea (Urban) and how good she is, he’s a swimming version, so it will be fun to see him a year older now and a year under his belt to see what he can do.”

“I think we are going to be ok with distance and Urban, he loves to do the distance. With Phil Jensen, he can do anything you ask of him, so that’s nice to have,” he added. “Everson right now is going to have to work his way back, he was battling shoulder tendinitis in both shoulders so he’s not in great swimming shape yet, but a guy like that will come around and we’ll look to him to do the sprint stuff along with Stoffel. We can do ok I think in sprints and distance and beyond that we’re hoping for some pleasant surprises.”

Junior Joe Everson is one of Hastings boys swimming and diving's top returners this season after almost qualifying for state last year. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia
Junior Joe Everson is one of Hastings boys swimming and diving's top returners this season after almost qualifying for state last year. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

Last year the Raiders had a young, up-and-coming group of divers that had the chance of developing this season. However, they will have to start from almost scratch this winter behind Lester.

“So this year is going to be kind of a young, untested diving bunch. Both (Elijah) Pace and Dylan Shemon did not come out this year. So, Lester is the No. 1 returning diver that we have, and then we have some young guys, some new guys who are starting out,” Rupp said. “It will be interesting to see what they can do.”

With the returners that he has out this year, Rupp said that he hopes the Raiders can finish in the top three of the Metro East Conference along with most likely St. Thomas Academy and Simley. He also said that the ultimate goal is to qualify as many swimmers and divers as possible to the state meet in February. Last year was the first time in several years that Hastings did not have a boy swimmer or diver advance, though Everson came close.

“We’re a year older now and hoping to have some stronger finishes and we’re looking forward to having a fun season,” he said.

The Raiders started practice on Monday, Nov. 25. Their first meet is the Metro East Conference Relays on Thursday, Dec. 5, hosted by Simley. They travel to Farmington on Dec. 10 for their first non-conference dual meet and then Dec. 12 is their first MEC dual meet at the Hastings Middle School pool against Henry Sibley.