The past year saw Farmington Tigers and Rosemount Irish athletics achieve great things both on and off the field of play. From state championships to new records, it has been a memorable 2018 for both towns' sports teams. There were so many stories that could have made this list, but check out below 10 of the best sports stories of 2018:
Rosemount cheer wins state, goes to nationals
The Rosemount cheerleading team had an almost perfect season for 2017-2018, winning every tournament they competed in up to nationals. The Irish won the Land of 10,000 Lakes regional competition that helped them qualify for for a national competition in Florida on top of taking first in the finals at the state tournament. On top of their competition season that goes from April until February, the cheer team also performs at football games. On the team were Bria Felix, Alex Wolf, Léa Payette, Tsola Onesirosan, Grace Knoll, Jaclyn Joseph, Allie Keller, Megan Petersen, Olivia Gernandt, Lauren Andren, Sunny Schaffhausen, Ashley Dwyer , Megan Casalini, Grace Walsten, Madison Zweber, Alana Ortiz, Nicole McFee, Alyssia Harshe, Abby Eller and Lyssa Billson, and coached by Sally Holman.
Passeri, Schlie, Slayton qualify for state gymnastics
Three gymnasts from Farmington and Rosemount qualified for state late last winter-Lauren Slayton for the Tigers and Arianna Passeri and Josey Schlie for the Irish. Schlie and Slayton, both seniors last year, took first and third in the all-around at the Section 1AA meet to qualify for the state meet. It was Slayton's third time going to state and Schlie's sixth, adding the distinction of going every year she competed. Passeri, a junior last year, won the vault to also qualify for the first time.
Sadly, Schlie suffered an injury in preparation for state and was not able to compete. Slayton took ninth in the all-around at state with a score of 37.4, 16th on the vault and uneven bars, 30th on balance beam and sixth with her floor exercise. She finished her prep career at Farmington holding numerou records for the Tigers. Passeri took 23rd on the vault with a score of 9.4 and said she hopes to qualify this year in more than one event on top of going as a team.
Tiger, Irish swimmers go to state
The Farmington and Rosemount boys' and girls' swim teams all sent competitors to their respective state meets in March and November. Seth Krause (a current junior) went for the Tiger boys in the one meter dive and also narrowly missed going in the 100-yard butterfly. It was his third state meet after going as an eighth-grader (where he took 31st) and a freshman (20th), improving and going farther in the meet with each year. Krause made the cut to the finals with a score of 248.25 and ended up taking 12th with a score of 342.55. He has two more years to continue to improve his standing but said he also wants to make it in his swimming events as well.
The Irish boys sent now-graduated Grant Toenges and current senior Cody Spaeth to the state swim meet in a total of three events. Toenges qualified in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, while Spaeth went in the 500 freestyle. Toenges made it to the finals in both of his events and finished eighth in the 100 butterfly (51.68 seconds) and was 15th (52.96) in the 100 backstroke. Spaeth swam a 4:51.60 in the preliminaries but did not advance to the finals.
This past November, Farmington sent two girls in individual events, a diver and two relays while Farmington also sent two individuals and a relay. For the Tigers, the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay teams qualified as well as eighth-grader Jordyn Schmucker in the one meter dive, freshman Maddie Grimm in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke and then eighth-grader Faith Ring in the 100 breaststroke. Irish qualifiers were the 400 freestyle relay team, senior Anna Wenman in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, and junior Molly Urkiel in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
Schmucker took 31st in the diving preliminaries with a score of 126.75 but did not advance. The Tigers' 200 medley relay took 21st and did not advance while the 200 freestyle relay team advanced to the consolation finals and took 14th. Grimm was 35th in the 200 individual medley preliminaries but did make the consolation finals in the 100 breaststroke and took 11th. Ring finished 22nd in the preliminaries of the 100 breaststroke but did not advance.
The Irish 400 freestyle relay team advanced to the championship finals and took eighth. Wenman qualified for the consolation finals in the 200 individual medley and took 14th, while in the 100 butterfly she took 11th in the consolation finals. Urkiel went to the championship finals in the 200 individual medley and took eighth and then in the 100 breaststroke she advanced to the consolation finals and placed 12th.
Oropeza places at state wrestling
Irish senior wrestler Ezayah Oropeza qualified for his first state wrestling individual tournament last winter and wasted no time putting his stamp on it as he took second in the 220-pound weight class. At the section tournament, he went 2-0 with two pins to take first and go to state for the first time. At state, he won his first three matches: by fall of Jagger Schack of Osseo in the first round, by a 7-0 decision against Hunter Koenig of Prior Lake and a 4-3 decision over Sam Horn of Eden Prairie to advance to the Class AAA championship match. He then faced Austin Rendler of Faribault and lost by a 3-2 decision to take second. Despite not quite being happy with how he wrestled in the championship match, Oropeza said at a minimum he wanted to place and have his picture up on the wall of the Rosemount wrestling room.
Oropeza has picked up where he left off last winter as he has dominated at 220 pounds for the Irish so far this season. Not only that, he has wrestled a fair bit at 285 pounds for Rosemount as well this season and routinely took it to wrestlers much larger than him. He said after the state tournament that he hopes to continue wrestling beyond college and this past fall he committed to wrestling at Division II St. Cloud State University for the Huskies.
Farmington establishes boys' volleyball team
Last spring, Farmington High School helped make history as they welcomed a new sport: boys' volleyball. While not Minnesota State High School League-sponsored, the Tigers joined 21 other schools across the state of Minnesota in joining the Minnesota Boys' High School Volleyball Association in playing during the spring season. Ultimately the goal is the have boys' volleyball become a MSHSL-sanctioned sport.
The team was led by A.J. Dubek and Ann Wilcek, with help from girls' head coach Michael Woody and members of the Farmington Girls JO volleyball program. Dubek played men's club volleyball at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and Wilcek had played in college as well. She also has a son (Brandon) who plays club volleyball.
It proved an instant hit at FHS as the team had great numbers (they were even forced to make cuts) and were able to field varsity and junior varsity teams. Naturally, this first season saw the coaches focus on fundamentals and basic strategy with the goal of being competitive. The varsity finished 8-11 while the junior varsity was 13-7.
An added twist were the unique warm-up pants that the boys' teams wore that many will remember: Zubaz. The Tigers colors were perfect for the classic pants and the fad even has spilled over to the girls' volleyball and boys' and girls' basketball teams. The idea was inspired by Dubek who said his club volleyball team wore them when he was in college.
Tiger, Irish tracksters compete at state
Both Farmington and Rosemount sent a crowd of athletes to the Class AA state track meet this past spring. The Tigers had four individual athletes and two relays make it, while the Irish sent an amazing 11 individuals and three relays-which would eventually include a state championship by Max Otterdahl in the shot put and several high placements.
For the Tigers, Lauren Peterson was the runner-up in the 3,200-meter run while Anna Fenske took fourth. They both also ran the 1,600 where Peterson took third and Fenske 14th. Nyeaee Robins competed in the 200 but did not advance past the preliminaries. Myiah Scott ran the 100 hurdles but nicked the last hurdle and did not advance. The girls' 4x100 relay team was less than half a second away from qualifying for the finals while the boys' 4x200 relay team also narrowly missed the finals.
The Irish dominated the state meet with the girls' taking third as a team and the boys finished fifth. Otterdahl won the Class AA state championship in the shot put and finished seventh in the discus. Alexys Berger tied a school record and was the runner-up in the pole vault. Luke Labatte took eighth in the 3,200 and fifth in the 1,600. Shae Buchman was seventh in the long jump and third in the 100 hurdles, as well as being part of the girls' 4x100 relay team that broke their own school record and finished third. Arianna Passeri placed fifth in the long jump but did not advance to the finals in the triple jump. Alex Wolf tied for fourth in the high jump, while Lauren Preiner took seventh. Rose Sieve competed in the 300 hurdles but just narrowly missed advancing to the finals. The girls' 4x800 relay team made the finals but did not make the podium. Jonathan Mann took third in the 110 hurdles, Ava Cinnamo was seventh in the 300 hurdles and Preston Strop also took seventh in the boys' 300 hurdles. The boys' 4x400 relay team placed sixth.
Rosemount golfers tackle state meet
The Rosemount Irish sent four golfers to the Class AAA state meet at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. Sydney Regalado represented the girls' team in her third state appearance. Qualifying for the boys were Wyatt Ebner, Parker Trana and Luke Rexing. Regalado, Trana and Ebner all finished their prep golf careers for Rosemount at the state meet.
Regalado finished in a tie for 48th with a two-day score of 176. In 2017 she finished in a tie for 34th and in 2015 she tied for 28th. She is a freshman at Gustavus Adolphus College this year where she is part of the Gusties women's golf team.
On the boys' side, 2018 was the first state meet appearance for all three. Ebner and Trana both shot 162s and tied for 67th, while Rexing finished in a tie for 74th with a 164. At the time, Trana said he would be attending Minnesota State University-Mankato and was thinking about trying to walk-on to their men's golf team.
Farmington football plays at TCO Stadium
The Minnesota Vikings new practice facility, The Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, opened this summer and at the start of August they announced that they would hold high school football games in the facility's TCO Stadium during the fall. Farmington football was chosen to play in the first-ever high school football game to be played at TCO Stadium-their opponents the Eagan Wildcats. Both Farmington athletics/activities director Bill Tschida and head football coach Adam Fischer said that the idea came together quickly over the course of the summer but that it was a complete secret until the announcement was made after a Vikings training camp practice.
The Tigers faced off against Eagan for the Wildcats' homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 28. Farmington sprinted out a 33-7 halftime lead and withstood a furious second-half comeback by Eagan to win the game 41-28. After the game, the Tigers were presented a trophy for winning the first-ever high school game at TCO Stadium. It was only quarterback Alex Berreth's second start of the season, but he threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion. Eli Green had six receptions for 105 yards, two of which setup Tiger scores. Alijah Moe had four catches for 97 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Zac Janz ran the ball 31 times and had three touchdowns.
Leary, Ramesh team up at state tennis
Livia Leary and Sonya Ramesh were the Rosemount Irish girls tennis team's top single players this past season, but for sections they teamed up to take on doubles and ended up on a wild ride to the state tournament. They cruised through their first three matches, beating a team from Humboldt 6-0, 6-0, followed by a 6-0, 6-3 win over the pairing from Cretin-Derham Hall and then finished the day by beating the team from St. Paul Central 6-1, 6-1. Three days later, they faced some stiff resistance as they attempted to seal their state birth. They went three sets against a tough team from Visitation, coming from behind to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. In the section championship match, Leary and Ramesh fell to the team from Henry Sibley 6-3, 6-2. However, from there they were forced to play one more match to preserve their second-place finish-a True Second match against the team from Eagan who won their third-place match and had not lost to the Rosemount or Henry Sibley teams-which Leary and Ramesh took 6-4, 7-6 and finished just shy of 11 p.m.
At the state tournament, they were unseeded and lost their first-round match 6-3, 6-3. Dropping to the consolation bracket, Leary and Ramesh won their next match 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the second consolation round where they were eliminated 6-2, 6-4.
What made Leary and Ramesh's accomplishment even better is the fact that the two have been teammates and friends since they were children, playing for the same club tennis organization. They also both had the opportunity to play with their older siblings (Anna Leary and Tanya Ramesh) at points during prep careers, which they said made the experience even better.
Cross-country runners make mark at state
Farmington and Rosemount boys' and girls' cross-country continue to be some of the best in the state, even with competing in the very competitive South Suburban Conference. That held true this past fall as both Tiger teams qualified for the Class AA state cross-country meet as well as the Irish girls and perennial contender Luke Labatte.
Tiger runners Anna Fenske and Lauren Peterson-who finished first-second at this meet two years ago-turned back time as they reversed spots with Peterson placing second and Fenske third behind Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn. Both of them beat the previous year's course record which belong to Covert before she re-set it this fall. Fenske edged out the fourth-place runner in a photo finish after her opponent passed her heading down the home stretch. The Farmington girls (consisting of Lauren Peterson, Anna Fenske, Mariah Fenske, Laura McGregor, Marianah Scott, Maleah Scott and Lily Peterson) took fourth as a team and were just 13 points out of third. Meanwhile, the Farmington boys (Aaron Kruse, Noah Revels, Brennen Peterson, Nolan Levack, Regan Sevenich and Trevor LaVigne) finished 12th behind Kruse in 44th and Revels in 48th.
Luke Labatte took seventh for the Irish in his last state tournament after pursuing an aggressive strategy, that if successful, would have seen him have a good chance of winning a state championship. He will be attending and running for the the University of North Dakota next year.
The Rosemount girls team consisting of Daisy Islas, Avery Leppones, Makayla Bishop, Taylor Heimerl, Kate Beckwith, Lucy Jagoe and Abby McNeil finished 11th out of 16 teams with 269 points. They were led by Islas, who in her first season of varsity cross-country took 29th at state after winning the Section 3AA championship.