The Hastings Raiders boys' and girls' track and field teams both won Metro East Conference championships last season, and boys' head coach Jason Koch said that remains the goal.
On top of that, the boys sent the 4x800-meter relay team of Griffin Myers, Josh Lewanski, Jakub Youngstrom and Isaac Huntington to the state tournament last year with Youngstrom and Huntington returning this season for the Raiders, and both teams will try and send as many events as possible back to the state tournament.
Both teams lost significant contributors to graduation last spring, but also return key pieces. For the girls, junior Liberty Larcholey comes back in the 400 and sophomores Martha Vaughan, Avery Daley and Linnea Urban all return.
Vaughan excelled in the pole vault while Urban is a top long-distance runner in the 1,600 (defending MEC champion) and 3,200 and is coming off a trip to the nordic skiing state tournament.
Senior Jessica Davison returns in the throws, fellow senior Hannah Peterson in the long jump and junior Rachel Hughes in the 300 hurdles, along with juniors Emily Biscoe and Reilly Johnson.
On top of Youngstrom and Huntington for the boys are senior sprinters Noah Kullmann and Amar Thomas, as well as junior Beau DuRand. Joining Huntington in the middle-distance events like the 400 is Daniel Brown, while Youngstrom will continue his efforts in the long-distance races.
For field events, senior Matt Myers returns in the pole vault and will continue in that event after graduation. Koch said that the area they probably lost the most in was in the throwing events, but senior Isaac Rabaey returns in the discus and high jump. Also throwing will be seniors Sully Levos and Nick Foster.
Koch said that with how much success the Raider teams have had since moving to the MEC (two championships, including last year, and two second-place finishes), they will continue to tweak how they train and prepare but are not making any major changes.
Perhaps the biggest change this season is that the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will not be holding any indoor meets due to renovations, which removes at least one meet from the Raiders slate.
Hastings starts its season by hosting Park and Red Wing for indoor time trials on Thursday, March 28. They then compete at Hudson, Wis., on April 12.