Warriors Athlete of Week: Brainerd duo of Hastings-Knapp finish season in All-State style

Lance Hastings and Taite Knapp came together late, but finished fourth in the state meet for All-State honors.

A Nordic skier glides across the snow.
Brainerd's Taite Knapp races toward the finish Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, during the State Nordic Ski meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

BRAINERD -- They both said their favorite movie is “Cars.”

They both enjoy a stop at Burritos California to refuel.

And while different people, Lance Hastings’ and Taite Knapp’s favorite athletes are both from Norway.

They are a match made not in heaven, but in the mind of Brainerd Warriors co-head coaches Chris Hanson and Mary Claire Ryan.

Prior to the Little Falls Invite at Camp Ripley Jan. 26, the two coaches decided to pair Knapp, who was already a state-savvy participant with Hastings in the sprint relay. The two dominated that field. Destroyed the Section 8 field and were inches away from a runner-up finish at the State Nordic Ski meet Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Giants Ridge. That was until a chuck of ice derailed the second-place finish. Instead, the duo finished fourth at state, which was good for All-State distinction. More importantly, it helped Brainerd to a program-best fourth-place team finish at state.


Skiers compete Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, during the State Nordic Boys Ski Meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Brainerd's Lance Hastings skies during the opening leg of the sprint relay Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, during the State Nordic Boys Ski Meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

“The last lap, I was third and a Wayzata kid fell so I passed him so I was second behind a Duluth East kid going down the last hill into the finish with the momentum. I hit an ice chunk and lost my balance and fell. I had about a 20-second lead between me and third and fourth. I got up, but the momentum carried the other two into the finish and they passed me.

“I was pretty disappointed, to be honest. Being in the moment in second I was really excited and then falling was a big bummer. All-in-all, my goal was to get top four so I mean you can’t be too disappointed, I guess.”

The two skiers that passed Knapp were just representing sprint relay teams and not complete teams so their finish didn’t affect Brainerd’s team standings. The Warriors trailed only Duluth East heading into Thursday’s pursuit.

“It was super exciting,” Hastings said about the placement. “The energy was crazy. I was really happy that we got second for the team. That was way more important than any individual result It was good.”

Said Ryan: “It was sheer determination. We got them into place and trained them and we practiced handoffs and we practiced a lot of the little things. The two embraced that and they were just determined. The first lap they were in fifth. Then they were in fourth and then third after the last handoff. When it was over they were totally exhausted. These guys had nothing left to give. They put it all out there.”

The two clocked a time of 14:28.44. Duluth East won the event with a 14:05.22. The two finished second in their preliminary heat to advance to the finals. They posted a time of 14:54.52 in the prelims to finish behind Mounds View, which went on to finish sixth in the finals.

“It was really exciting,” Knapp said about the team finishing fourth. “Last year was a good year for us. After our team placement went up a lot, that was really exciting. Then this year it was exciting again to see where our sprint put our team. It was a really good year all the way around.”

Said Hastings: “That is super exciting and I hope to go back to state. As soon as the state meet ended we were already talking about next year. We have all of our scoring skiers back, which is huge.”


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Hastings and Knapp dominated Section 8 with a winning time of 13:44.3. That was 21 seconds faster than the second-place team from Little Falls.

“We were pretty confident,” Knapp said. “We knew it was going to be good competition at state and we were excited to see what that competition was and whether we could place with some of the better schools from the cities and teams like Duluth East.”

Said Hanson: They did more than live up to expectations at state, they exceeded them.”

The two took a reprieve from relays to earn All-Central Lakes Conference honors Feb. 2. Knapp placed second in the freestyle with a 14:42.95. Hastings finished third in the classic with a 15:51.81.

The All-state team came together for the Little Falls Invite. Hastings-Knapp posted a first-place time of 11:42.8.

“It was a lot of hard work and consternation on behalf of the coaching staff analyzing results all year," Hanson said. "We played with pieces of the puzzle and that ended up coming together at the Little Falls meet toward the end of the season. It was the last meet that used the section and state format and when it ended up coming together as well as it did coach Ryan and I fist-bumped and said we’re not messing with this. We found something that works.”

Ryan said Knapp's previous experience with the relay was a plus, but she loves his ability to chase people down. She also loved how both Hastings and Knapp grasped the strategy of sprint racing. Whether it’s drafting behind someone to conserve energy or just flying past people.

“We had been doing sprint trials at practices and I was always finishing near the top,” Hastings said. “One race at Little Falls, they just decided to put me and Taite together and we ended up winning that race so they kept us as sprinters.


“At first I kind of wanted to stick with pursuit, but in the end, I really liked doing sprints.”

Knapp did the sprint relay last year at state, too. He teamed with the graduated Noah Schaeffer to finish fifth.

“I didn’t really have a strong preference between the sprint and the pursuit, but I was excited about it,” Knapp said. “Where ever coaches wanted me for the team was just kind of my mindset.”

Hanson’s last words were that both skiers come back next year. But the sprint relay will be a classic format next season.

“It’s going to be a lot different with a classic sprint,” Knapp said. “I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I don’t know if I’ll be a strong enough skier for that or what. Coaches will figure it out and I’ll do what’s ever best for the team.”

Said Hastings: “We’ll see what the coaches decide for next year.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at


Lance Hastings

Lance Hastings
Lance Hastings

Sport: Nordic skiing

Position: Sprint relay

Year: Junior

Age: 16

Height: 6-foot

Career highlight: Finishing fourth at the State Nordic meet

Other sports: Soccer

Grade-point average: 4.0


Favorite class: Math

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite movie: “Cars”

Favorite TV show: “Ted Lasso”

Favorite musician: Kendrick Lemar

Favorite restaurant: Burritos California

Future plans: Go into the medical field

Favorite athlete: Erling Haaland


Parents: Chris and Jessa Hastings

Taite Knapp

nordic skiers
Tate Knapp

Sport: Nordic skiing

Position: Sprint relay

Year: Freshman


Height: 5-foot-8

Career highlight: Finishing fourth at the State Nordic meet

Other sports: Lacrosse, cross-country

Grade-point average: 3.6

Favorite class: Metals and motors

Favorite food: Chili

Favorite movie: “Cars”

Favorite TV show: “Outer Banks”

Favorite musician: Luke Bryan

Favorite restaurant: Burritos California

Future plans: Something in the construction field

Favorite athlete: Johannes Klabo

Parents: Mike and Tiffanie Knapp

Other notable performances

Dylan Wikoff, boys’ hockey, scored two goals against St. Cloud.

Josie Harguth, gymnastics, finished second on beam in the Section 8-2A Finals to advance to state.

Brenna Deason, gymnastics, finished third on vault in the Section 8-3A Finals to advance to state.

Johnny Pecarich, boys’ basketball, scored 39 points in a victory over Buffalo and scored 20 against Rocori.

Eli Hoelz, boys’ basketball, finished with 24 points against Rocori.

Kate Stadum, girls’ basketball, finished with 19 points against St. Cloud.

Annelise Baird, Nordic skiing, earned All-State honors with a 22nd-place finish in the state meet.

Calia Chaney, Alpine skiing, earned All-State honors with her 11th-place finish at the state meet.

Ryan Kennedy, boys’ hockey, scored two goals against River Lakes.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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