The Rosemount Irish wrestling team is back with an experienced squad this season after graduating just three wrestlers from 2017-2018. Returning standouts for the Irish are state runner-up Ezayah Oropeza, Max Otterdahl, Kameron Werk and Zach Young-all of whom are captains this year and the team has 12 seniors overall.

"We only graduated three varsity wrestlers last year, so in terms of our roster, it comes back relatively the same, but we are thrilled with what have coming back to our lineup, in addition to some new pieces that have created a more competitive and intense atmosphere in the room," co-head coach Tyler Cookas said.

"The greatest strength of our team is in our veteran leadership. With so many seniors on the team, it's almost like having extra coaches," he said. "After being around for all these years, these guys know what the expectations are in our program, and help establish that precedent with our underclassmen. They know when to take charge and initiative, which gives us as coaches more time to focus on other aspects that help improve our program."

In terms of the roster, the strength of this year's team is no doubt the back-end of their lineup which will feature Werk, Young, Otterdahl and Oropeza. Both Oropeza and Otterdahl are ranked in their respective weight classes-Oropeza is the top-ranked wrestler at 220 pounds in Class 3A while Otterdahl is ranked No. 5 at 285.

Cookas said that the biggest change with this year's team is in the coaching staff.

"We have added four new coaches to the staff who all bring tremendous experience and differing areas of expertise to the program," he said. "With all of that combined, we have raised our expectations from last year in numerous ways, especially with where we are expecting to finish as a team in a highly competitive section."

Rumble on the Red

Four Irish wrestlers-Otterdahl, Oropeza, Young and freshman Tony Byersdorfer-made the trip to Fargo, N.D., Dec. 28-29, for the Rumble on the Red. Braving the inclement weather, the four combined to earn Rosemount 50 team points, which was good for 20th place out of over 50 teams despite teams not showing up.

Byersdorfer wrestled at 152 pounds and went 1-2. He fell to Griffin Studier of Albert Lea by fall in 3 minutes, 54 seconds in the first round, received a bye in the second round and then lost by fall to Ethan Johnson of Northfield by a 5-4 decision in the third.

Young took eighth at 182 pounds and went 4-3 overall in the tournament. He won his first round match by fall over Hunter Aceret of Apple Valley in 5:39 but then fell in the second round to Jon Huss of Scott West by a 12-3 major decision. Young then advanced in the consolation bracket with three straight wins-by tech fall (15-0) over Beau Nelson of Dassel-Cokato, a 9-3 decision over Jack Russell of Delano and by fall in 3:42 over Kolin Baier of Mankato East-before he lost to Brett Graham of Frazee by an 8-5 decision. In the seventh-place match, Young fell to Logan Sell of Oakes by an 11-3 major decision.

Oropeza went undefeated at 220 pounds with a bye in the first round and then four straight wins. He beat Teagan Young of St. Charles by fall in 1:54, Sam McEnelly of Waconia by fall in 0:53, a 17-0 tech fall over Charles Dressel of Mounds View and then a 3-0 decision in the championship match over Dawson Kellogg of Perham. Oropeza was responsible for over 30 of Rosemount's 50 team points.

Otterdahl went 2-2 in his four matches at the Rumble on the Red. He won his first-round match by fall in 3:14 over Devin Stone of West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville but then lost in the second round to Luke Parzyck of White Bear Lake Area by a 8-2 decision. Now in the consolation bracket, he beat Rowdie Lindquist of Perham by fall in 0:44 before he lost in the next round to Seth Baker of Turtle Mountain by fall in 2:59.

Rosemount travels to Lakeville South on Friday, Jan. 11.