In what will go down as one of the greatest moments in Hastings athletics history, the Hastings Raiders wrestling team finally broke through, pulling off a stunning Vikings vs Colts level comeback against defending champions and powerhouse St. Michael-Albertville to earn the program’s 2nd state title and the first team title of any kind in Hastings since 2013.
The Raiders opened up the day against Willmar, and got off to a shaky start, before pulling away at the heavyweights to down the Cardinals. This set up a rematch with Waconia, a team that just nipped the Raiders in the regular season.
The Raiders owned the match, taking care of Waconia to advance to the state title match, where the Raiders had been once since the 1996 title, a runner up finish
In the state title match, the Beissel brothers got decisions to give Hastings a 6-0 lead, before a Knights pin tied it at 6. STMA then went on a lengthy run opening up a 21-6 lead. Josh Route then got a decision win to make it 21-9, but STMA responded with a pin and a major decision to lead 32-9. All the Knights needed was one point of any kind and they would have essentially wrapped up the match. But Ian Pepple won by decision, then Rico Cooper did the same to make it 32-15. The Raiders essentially needed three straight pins to win. And do it they did, as Derrick Steinke would get a pin to ignite the Raider crowd. Then Austin Leflay followed it up to cut it to 32-27. The Raider faithful in attendance were in a frenzy as the match rested (literally) on the shoulders of Blake Clemons. And Clemons responded with a near instant pin. The Hastings coaches jumped up and down waiting for the ref to signal a fall and when he did, Raider Nation went berserk. Students and faculty hugged each other near the mat, the wrestlers jumped up and down embracing, and the fans of the other schools wrestling for titles of their own applauded. It was an improbable comeback for sure, but Hastings felt like they were a deserving champion and while many outside of Hastings called it an “improbable upset”, the Raider faithful knew this team could do it.
Blake Clemons, Trey Beissel and Blake Beissel were named to the all-tournament team.
Congratulations to the entire Raider wrestling team on this amazing achievement!