Wrestling: Irish found a way to fill lineup
In December, Rosemount wrestling coach Brett Larson was still trying to assemble a varsity lineup.
Larson wasn't sure if his team would be able to fill out each of the 14 weight classes. The Irish coach felt comfortable with the middle of his lineup with an experienced set of middle weight wrestlers retuning.
In the heavyweight spot, Jon Bishop was returning this season from injury. Dan Rosa was back at 103 pounds as a sophomore after a breakout season last year.
But, Larson was afraid the rest of the weights weren't going to fall in Rosemount's favor. Larson was worried about giving away extra points because he knew the Irish would be faced with many close meets this season.
Three months later, Larson really couldn't have expected things to fall quite the way they did.
"Overall it was a successful season," Larson said. "We probably had more success than we thought looking at the season coming in. The biggest part is we were able to mostly fill out the lineup top-to-bottom. We had our quality wrestlers in the lineup almost every match. If you do that you're going to be more competitive.
"Even guys that didn't win as much as they would have liked battled and didn't give up bonus points. That helps considerably in duals. All the guys, top to bottom, really contributed."
Faced with many of those close meets, the Irish pulled out their share of important victories and the season unfolded about as well as could be expected. Rosemount had quality performances from its top-rated wrestlers. It got points from unexpected sources and stayed relatively healthy this season.
The Irish finished 19-5 overall in dual meets and finished third in the South Suburban Conference with a 6-2 conference mark.
With health on its side, Rosemount had eight wrestlers win at least 24 matches and four win more than 30 matches.
"We were fortunate," Larson said. "The last couple of years we were hit heavy with the injury bug, injuries and illnesses and this year that wasn't the case. That will hurt any program.
"We also had 37 guys letter, the most we've had in years. It creates competition in the room. We have good numbers day-in and day-out, higher than most years. And it creates those internal competitions, internal battles in the practice room and that carries over to the mat. And with that, the freshman team was very successful and the JV had a lot of success as well, so it looks good for the future.
Adam Jackson finished his junior season second in the state at 152 pounds. He had a 38-3 record and was all-state, all-conference, earned the team's scholar-athlete award and the hardest worker award.
Steve Levine, Josh Francois and Bishop joined Jackson as all-conference honorees. Rosa, Adam Hedin, Paul Domeier and Nick Paxson were all-conference honorable mention.
Hedin, a seventh-grader, and Paxson, a ninth-grader, shared Rosemount's rookie award honors. Hedin was 26-12 and Paxson was 25-12.
Junior Pat Massey and senior Jake Pruter shared the team's most improved honors
Francois, a senior, was 33-4 and was ranked No. 7 at 160 pounds. He finished with 94 career wins, the eighth best individual total for the Irish. Domeier, another senior was 24-11 and had 73 career wins.
Rosa was 32-6. Bishop finished 28-9.
"Our biggest strength was at the bottom, the lower weights," Larson said. "With Danny Rosa and then going through with Adam and Josh being sure wins, and then Bishop at the end we kind of had a good balance in there. Because our lightweights were so strong we were never really behind early and that gets momentum going and helps the other guys."
Levine, a junior, finished 25-3 and was ranked No. 6 at 125 pounds. Unfortunately, a late-season injury kept him from competing at the section meet and possibly joining Jackson at the state meet.
"He would have been right in the mix," Larson said.
Colin Busho was the Irish award winner. Grant Jackson was the most valuable ninth-grade wrestler and Stefan Sauer was the most valuable wrestler for the JV squad.
Jeries Fakhoury led the JV with 19 wins. Austin Swanson had 17 JV wins and Sauer added 15 wins.
Grant Jackson finished with 25 wins for the ninth-grade team.