11 Raiders sign their letters of intent to attend college

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 11/16/23

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, hundreds of families and friends descended on Dugarel’s Bar and Grill to witness eleven Hastings High School athletes officially sign their letters of intent to attend college …

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11 Raiders sign their letters of intent to attend college


On Wednesday, Nov. 8, hundreds of families and friends descended on Dugarel’s Bar and Grill to witness eleven Hastings High School athletes officially sign their letters of intent to attend college and compete in sports from all divisions of the collegiate level. The National Signing Day event is held all over the country to celebrate the accomplishments of a very small percentage of student athletes that continue to play after their high school career.

The event was hosted by Dugarel’s because the High School has gone away from the National Signing Day event much to the chagrin of pretty much the entire crowd that gathered at Dugarel’s. In discussing the signing day with the athletes that signed, they were all inspired by seeing their classmates sign two years ago. It is an important piece of the athlete’s career. Dugarel’s did it because the kids deserve it, the community needs to remind the high school that something like this is important for all kids to be able to witness and it should be held at the high school on National Signing Day.

Here are the 11 athletes, the schools they will attend and what sport they will continue to play. Congratulations to our Raiders and good luck following your dreams! Also, thank you to Dugarel’s for not only providing the space, but also the written copies the athletes accomplishments.

Autumn Burt | St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN | Hockey

Autumn has committed to play hockey at St. Catherine (aka St. Kates) and plans on majoring in psychology. She is the daughter of Steve and Karen Burt and grew up playing soccer and hockey in Hastings. Ever since she took her first steps, Autumn has been determined to do things to the best of her ability. Whether it was learning to tie her shoes, studying for a big test, or playing sports, she wasn't happy if the result wasn't perfect. With sports and life in general, things don't always work that way. That was something that was hard to accept for Autumn, but she took the challenge head on. She focused on things she could control - becoming physically and mentally stronger. She put the work in and accepted that some things were simply out of her control. The results of that hard work have led us too today. Mom and dad could not be more proud of all you've accomplished!

Owen Bernatz | University of Northwestern, St. Paul, MN | Basketball

Owen Bernatz is a three-year starter for Hastings Raiders Basketball. His sophomore season he averaged 13.5 points per game and was All Conference honorable mention. His junior year he averaged 17.5 points per game as well as finishing second in the conference in steals and earned all-conference first team. He was the Team MVP as a Junior and is a Senior captain for this coming year. He played Club basketball for one of the best ranked clubs in the state in Minnesota Fury. For his senior year he was placed on the pre-season all-section first team. He is on pace to be the eighth 1000-point scorer in school history. Breakdown Sports has said Owen is one of the top senior scorers in the metro.

Jack Seleski | Dakota County Technical College, Rosemount, MN | Baseball

Jack’s been a starting outfielder for Coach Stoffel since his Sophomore year. In that time, he contributed to a 34-13 overall won / loss record and consecutive second place finishes for the Raiders in the Metro East conference. This past season Jack was named All Conference Honorable mention and among the team leaders hitting .353 with one Homerun, seven Doubles and 17 RBI. Jack was also part of the Hastings Legion team this past summer, leading the team with a .656 batting average and advancing Hastings to the Minnesota Legion State tournament for the first time in 23 years. Jack has accepted a scholarship to attend Dakota County Technical College and compete at the NJCAA Division II level.

Gavin Lambert | Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, MN | Wrestling

This is what coach Tim Haneman had to say about Gavin: Gavin Lambert is the ultimate team wrestler. For four years, he has played a huge role in helping his teammates make constant improvements. He is always ready to step into the varsity lineup when called up to wrestle. So far in his high school career, he has had 16 varsity wins with half of them being by pin which is the ultimate goal in a wrestling match. One thing that Gavin is known for is his fight during matches. Throughout his high school career, he has only been pinned one time. This means that he wrestles as hard as he can in order for his team to have the most success that it can. Once again, Gavin always puts the team's needs before his own. Gavin has put in a lot of hard work over the spring and summer in order to find the most success he can during his senior year. Southwest Minnesota State is fortunate to land a wrestler like Gavin Lambert. During his next 4-5 years at SMSU, Gavin will continue on his path to become the best wrestler he can be, while always helping his teammates, and putting the teams’ needs before his own. As Gavin’s high school coach, I am excited to follow his journey and know that his biggest wins are yet to come!

Grace Gerlach | Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO | Lacrosse

Congratulations to Grace Gerlach on her signing day as she embarks on a new adventure, joining the Division II Lacrosse team at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Though she is a multi-sport athlete, Grace's true passion has always been Lacrosse, a love that began in sixth grade and eventually earned her a spot on the high school varsity team as an eighth grader. Grace embraced this opportunity wholeheartedly and never looked back, achieving Offensive MVP, All-Conference, All-Sections, and being voted team captain by her peers during her sophomore and junior years. Additionally, Grace has left her mark on Raiders Lacrosse, setting two records with 48 single-season goals and 96 career varsity goals as a Junior.

Grace's journey has been characterized by countless hours of practice, sacrifices, and challenges, showcasing her remarkable commitment as a student-athlete. She has excelled both academically and athletically, embodying the true spirit of balance and dedication.

Rockhurst University is not only gaining a talented lacrosse player but also a compassionate and determined young woman. Grace, please know that your friends, family, and coaches are incredibly proud of your achievements and eagerly anticipate witnessing your remarkable journey ahead. Congratulations!

Skylar Little Soldier | Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI | Wrestling

Skylar Little Soldier started wrestling at the age of 6. She has brought home a lot of hardware over the years from a lot of different tournaments across the country and the world. She has been to Japan, Argentina and Sweden for competitions. She has spent time and trained at the US Olympic training center. She is a two time MSHSL girls individual state champion. She is a two time women’s Cadet freestyle Fargo national champion and 5 time all American. She was a U-17 cadet world team trials runner up. Since she was a runner up she got to compete in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the U-17 pan American championships where she brought home a silver medal. Skylar will compete and hopes to win another state title this season. She also will compete at U-20 world team trials in April with a chance to make a world team and compete in Spain in 2024. She has had a dream since she was 6 to be an Olympic gold medalist. She hopes to try for that in 2028 when the Olympics are in Los Angeles.

Brady Nickel | Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC | Lacrosse

At six years old, you could find Brady suiting up to play in games with kids 3 – 5 years older than him, excited to play against opponents bigger and stronger than he was, knowing he was born for this sport. He didn’t shy away from any position, and it was impossible to keep him off the field, even spending time at goalie when he had a broken elbow!

By the time he was nine, Brady was ready to accelerate his skills and added a club team to his schedule, followed by an additional national level team four years later. These teams provided him the opportunity to travel the country playing in many high-level tournaments and against players that provided an extremely high challenge. Over the last three years he has helped his national team consistently rank within the top 10 teams in the country.

Brady started on the Varsity Lacrosse team his freshman year, scoring his first goal in his first game. He has won awards for All Conference and All Section. During the 2023 All-Section voting, Brady was the only unanimous first team defenseman. He has also received the Defensive MVP for the past two seasons. He’s the first DI commit to come from the Hastings Lacrosse program.

Alex Hendrickson | University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN | Baseball

Alex Hendrickson will be signing his NLI to play Baseball at the University of St. Thomas. Alex has played on the Varsity Baseball team since his sophomore year. He has earned All-Conference during his Sophomore and Junior year, as well as All-Section his Junior year. Playing at Hastings High School, Alex and his teammates have gone 34-13 over their last two seasons and are hoping for a State Tournament run this season. Alex has been very fortunate with teammates and coaches since he was eight years old to get to this point in his career.

In the summer months, Alex played for MASH Baseball and had the opportunity to play at some of the best tournaments and baseball complexes throughout the country, which included the USA Baseball Complex where only 16 teams in the nation got invited to. Alex received the MVP award at the Grand Park Fall National Championship tournament in Indianapolis that included 96 teams.

Blake Beissel | University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN | Wrestling

This, from coach Josh McClay: It is an honor to write this on behalf of Blake Beissel. Even before his senior wrestling season starts, Blake has put together one of the best wrestling careers Hastings has ever seen. Just last season Blake set another school record going 55-1 and winning his second state title. During the season Blake won two of the biggest individual tournaments around, winning both the Bi-State and Minnesota Christmas tournament. But if you know Blake you would know that what he is most proud of is leading his team to a State Team Championship. As a two-time captain, Blake’s leadership is second to none. He is one of the most selfless leaders we have ever had. He leads by example being the first one in the room and the last one to leave but also, he’s the best hype man for his teammates. He’s the first one there to high five his teammates after a big win but more importantly to pick them up after a big loss.

Hastings wrestling prides itself on giving back not only to the program but to the community. After a tough varsity practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays you can find Blake at the youth practice helping the next generation of Raiders. He’ll also show up on a weekend to help coach if he is able. No one told him to do it, no one pays him to do it, he is that type of selfless leader. As a team we give back to the community by being a huge presence at gobble gait which donates to the local food shelf. Last year Blake upped his game and picked up 10 of his teammates and helped set up and tear down after the run. At the high school Blake is a part of an awesome program called AVID which is a college and career motivated class that is a great indicator of future success.

As a neighbor and long time family friend it has been a blessing being a part of his life and his journey. Blake has outworked everyone to get to where he is. He’s always training, always watching tape, always picking up teammates to go workout. His success is not by chance but from effort. At home he is responsible and kind; he frequently takes his sister Ellie and my daughter out for ice cream. Blake is just an awesome human and has a big heart and big dreams. On behalf of our family, the wrestling family and community we wish you luck on chasing your dreams of becoming an NCAA Champion for the Minnesota Gophers! They are fortunate to have landed you.

Lauren Jenkins | University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN | Softball

Congratulations to Lauren Jenkins on her commitment to play softball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth! Lauren plans to study Public Health as an undergraduate and ultimately, work towards a master’s in nursing.

Lauren started her softball career in McMinnville, Oregon, with her Grandpa Kevin as her t-ball coach and chasing her big sister Kendal around the bases. Throughout most of her younger years, she played with the older kids and was constantly challenged to keep up with the pace and size of her teammates. This continued into her high school years, as she was brought up to join the HHS Varsity Section team in her seventh-grade year and she never looked back! In addition to playing high school ball, Lauren has played with the MN Magic Softball program for the last four years. She’s had the privilege of playing all around the country, up against some of the best talent in the sport. She’s also earned multiple All-Conference and All-Sections honors as an outfielder for the Raiders.

Lauren has put in countless hours for her softball career and has worked incredibly hard to reach this goal. She’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy, but the thrill of the next step is worth the road to get here!

Your parents, coaches, friends and family couldn’t be more proud of you Lauren, and we look forward to seeing you on the field! Congratulations!

Cade Kimmes | Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN | Baseball + Football

Cade grew up attending Randolph High School and was a three-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball, and baseball. Cade made the switch over to Hastings where he excelled in playing both baseball and football. He started playing club baseball at the age of 10 with NorthStar, where he played with them through this past summer.

Cade started playing Triple-A baseball in Hastings while in seventh grade, still attending Randolph. Which made Cade interested in attending Hastings and jumping at the opportunity to switch schools before the start of his freshman year of high school. Cade played football and baseball during his freshman year and only football during his sophomore year, due to a shoulder injury with a torn labrum, which took him out of most of his sophomore year of baseball and entire junior football season.

Cade overcame adversity and was determined to be ready for baseball season his junior year, in which he was awarded All-Conference Honorable Mention. With the success of having no trouble with his shoulder, he had a successful senior year of football and is looking forward to this upcoming baseball season.

In addition, Cade is actively involved in being a member of the Link Crew and also attends the Hastings FCA program. His future plans include going to Gustavus College where he was offered to be a two-sport athlete playing both football and baseball. Cade will major in business management at Gustavus and pursue a career in air traffic control after graduation.