Matt Steichen has been the sports editor at the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. He has previously been a sports writer at the Sioux City Journal and Le Mars Daily Sentinel and the sports editor at the Austin Daily Herald.
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Games against two of the top five teams in the state made for a difficult first week for the Rosemount boys lacrosse team. The Irish played well in their opener against third-ranked (Class 2A) Eagan last Thursday night in West St. Paul, but came up short in a 17-13 loss to the conference and section rival Wildcats. Two days later, the team traveled to Blaine and got handed a 16-4 pounding by a Bengals team that then vaulted to fourth in state rankings. "It was a tough start. Both Eagan and Blaine are very good teams with developed programs.
Rosemount won just four games in the South Suburban Conference last spring. But two strong pitching performances have the Irish halfway to that total just four games into their 17-game league slate. Jake Schulze fired a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Burnsville in the first game of a doubleheader Friday afternoon and Ben Smith held visiting Lakeville South to two earned runs over seven innings in his first varsity start, a 4-3 Irish win on Monday. "I've been really excited about our pitching and our defense hasn't been too bad," Rosemount coach Chris Swansson said.
Another round of snow forced the Rosemount boys track team to take a long road trip to St. John's University in Collegeville for its dual meet with Wayzata Friday afternoon. The Trojans came out on top 53-51 on the 200-meter indoor track in the Donald McNeely Spectrum Fieldhouse. "We wouldn't normally drive up to St. John's in April, but given the spring we needed a competitive environment and we found it with a strong Wayzata team," Rosemount coach Jay Hatleli said.
Sairam Sunkam's victory at No. 4 singles kept Rosemount from being swept by a state-ranked Bloomington Jefferson team last Tuesday. Sunkam won 6-1, 6-3, but the Irish ended up dropping a 6-1 decision in their first outdoor South Suburban Conference match of the year in Bloomington. "This is a very tough team, ranked top 10 in the state, and they have great depth all the way through the lineup," Rosemount coach Dana Beck said.
The snow melted and the sun came out just long enough to get the Irish Girls Invitational track meet completed last Tuesday night at Irish Stadium. Prior Lake won the meet with 165 1/2 points, followed by Eagan with 102 and third-place Rosemount with 66 1/2 points. Farmington was a close fourth with 58 1/2 points, ahead of teams from Rochester Century, Eastview and Northfield. Two straight days with temperatures in the mid-40s were just enough to clear the track, which was covered up by six more inches of snow just two days later. "We were thrilled to get the meet in.
Onlookers would be right to expect to see a little bit of rusty play from time to time when cheering on the Rosemount Pipers this season. After all, about half of the team's 22-player roster hasn't played baseball in over a decade. The Pipers, who will feature six former Rosemount High School players and nine players who currently live in Rosemount, will play between 20 and 25 games in their inaugural season in the 35-and-over North Star Classic Baseball League this year.
Only the availability of the indoor tennis courts at Apple Valley Sports Arena kept Mother Nature from wiping out the entirety of last week's spring sports schedules in Rosemount and Farmington. The Irish tennis team swapped home dates with the Eagles and ended up losing 5-2 in its South Suburban Conference season opener last Thursday. "It was great to have the Apple Valley indoor arena to use for the match, just to get out and play.
The Rosemount girls track team just missed its first-ever True Team state meet berth last year when it finished second behind Prior Lake in Section 3AAAA, and ended up two spots away from earning a wild card berth. The Irish lost a few key contributors to graduation, but head coach Sara Hatleli is hoping a solid mix of returning sprinters, hurdlers and distance runners can once again put the team in the hunt for True Team state. "That was the best finish we have had at True Team in a long time," she said.
The return of forwards Carter Yepsen, Conner Yepsen and Grant VanOverbeke has the Rosemount boys lacrosse team ready to go after its fourth straight 10-win season, and score a whole lot of goals in the process. The threesome combined for 141 points a season ago when the Irish went 12-4, finished third in a tough South Suburban Conference and averaged over 13 goals a game. "With the guys we have back we're going to build off last year's success. The younger guys we have back know what roles they have to fill. We plan on being a 10-win team," Rosemount coach Lance Kuehn said.
The Farmington and Rosemount softball teams escaped the cold spring weather by moving into the Irish Dome for a scrimmage last Wednesday morning. No official score was kept, but the live-game action gave both coaches an opportunity to evaluate their teams and find things they need to work on as they prepare for the upcoming season. "It was a great experience to get out of the gym and play in some game-type situations," Farmington coach Paul Harrington said. "We know we have a lot of improvements to make to get where we want to be by our first game....