Boys' Swimming and Diving: Raiders go into season with very young team
Last season, the Hastings Raiders boys' swimming and diving team gave a glimpse into what this year will be like. In 2017-18, the Raiders had just a handful of seniors and no junior class and now this year they have a small group of juniors and many young swimmers, but no seniors.
"The biggest challenge will be that we have no seniors this year, so we really have a huge void in that leadership role," head coach Gerry Rupp said. "So we're hoping to have our juniors step up and take strides to fill that role for us.
"One thing that I am noticing so far is that early on, we haven't even started yet, William Jensen and Evan Scully are already trying to get some captain's things going and trying to organize a little bit, which is nice to see they're taking initiative."
Heading into this year, Rupp said he hopes that they can carry over the momentum from last season.
"We had a couple of decent swimmers that were doing well," he said. "One, Joe Everson in particular, he really had a good season last year and we're hoping he can build on that. Another one that had a great season last year was Avery Stoffel, so those two probably are the top-two guys going into the season. In addition to that, you have the Jensen boys, both William and Philip, they will be counted on heavily to do their thing."
However, outside of that core from last season, Rupp said that the rest of the team is very green.
"There's a couple guys who can really do some stuff but there's a bunch who are untested yet and they're going to have to step up into varsity roles which they have not done in years past, so they'll be called upon to grow up quick," he said.
One area of interest are the diving spots after state-champion Vova Tipler graduated. After a few boys were able to get some experience last year, Rupp said to expect Ryan Lester to continue to be solid for the Raiders, as well as Elijah Pace and the possibility of a new face or two.
"There's a couple of guys there but there's going to be a little bit slimmer of a diving crew than we've been used to in the past," he said.
With such a young group of swimmers yet again, Rupp said that training takes a different path. With an expanded coaching staff, he said they will be able to start the more advanced swimmers right where they left off while also being able to judge how far along the new and younger swimmers are and adjust accordingly.
Knowing the team he has this season, Rupp tempered expectations but still has goals for the year.
"I would like to finish in the top half of the conference," he said. "With a young, inexperienced team and the maturity separation between 17-, 18-year-old boys and 12-year-olds, it's a big thing for boys. So finishing top half of the conference would be a good, reasonable goal for us. And beyond that, I would like to get as many guys make it back to the section finals, that's always a big goal for us in swimming. And, of course, the ultimate goal would be to try and get someone qualified for the state meet. That's always a struggle and it gets tougher every year."
Schedule-wise, Hastings adds a dual against Farmington after a few-years absence but otherwise remains the same. Other non-conference meets include at Cretin-Derham Hall and the Section 1AA True Team meet. The Raiders started practice on Monday, Nov. 26th, and their first meet is the Metro East Conference relays at Simley on Thursday, Dec. 6.