Mike Manning entered his 27th school year as the athletic director at Rosemount High School knowing he would be retiring this summer. There were reasons to anticipate several outstanding team and individual performances for the Irish in 2022-23, although not necessarily to the point that he would be making this declaration in the final week of competition.

"This is the best overall athletic year in Rosemount High's 105 years … there's no question about that," Manning said. "One of the best parts of this job is ordering banners."

The standard at Rosemount is that a team gets a banner hung in the high school gymnasium if it either wins a state title or finishes second.

"We have to save same space on those walls," Manning said. "Third place or winning a consolation title, we offer congratulations, but there is not a banner."

There were six banners for a main gymnasium when Manning became the AD in the fall of 1996, and there have been 45 added during his tenure.

The frequency of banner-hanging has picked up in recent times, with four coming in 2022-23: champions in girls soccer last fall and softball last Friday, and runners-up in football last fall and champions in boys track last Saturday.

"We're hoping for one more," Manning said Tuesday afternoon, not long before the Irish played Sartell in the Class 4A baseball quarterfinals at CHS Field.

Rosemount opened a high school in 1918 and wound up carving out a huge area of land south and east of the Twin Cities to serve what would become School District 196.

Burnsville was the first suburb to explode on the other side of the Minnesota River, and then the population started moving east. Apple Valley High School opened in 1976, then Eagan in 1989 and Eastview in 1997.

The four high schools in District 196 started this school year with combined enrollments of 8,755. Rosemount was the largest of those with 2,530.

That was not the case shortly after Manning left St. Thomas Academy to become Rosemount's AD in 1996.

"They opened Eastview the next year and our enrollment was cut to 1,200," Manning said. "And with the teams we were playing … there were some tough sports years for us."

A key hire for Manning was finding a football coach in 1999.

"I had 45 coaches that were interested," Manning said. "The one I zeroed in on was Jeff Erdmann. He had turned around football at two places. He was winning at Winona. Hiring Jeff was big for us."

Not immediately. For instance: Most games with Mike Grant's Eden Prairie teams were not exactly nail-biters.

Manning smiled and said: "I have to admit this. The first football coach I tried to hire was Mike. I knew it was an extra-long shot, but we were friends going back to when we were at St. John's.

"I even found a farmer near Rosemount who would sell him some acreage to build a place in the country, which was something he talked about wanting."

Grant stayed at Eden Prairie, and he ran his state championship total to 11 through 2017. Meantime, most of those farm acres turned into homes, and Rosemount High's enrollment started to boom. Finally in 2019, the Irish defeated Eden Prairie for the first time in the second round of the state playdowns.

"And we beat 'em twice last fall," said Manning, making it a Rosemount football season for the ages, even if the Irish did lose the state championship game to Maple Grove.

Erdmann was in the Rosemount rooting section Tuesday. Asked Manning's main asset in surviving long-term as a successful athletic director, Erdmann said:

"A lot of us have been with Mike almost from the start. Way back when, when we weren't winning that much, he had the backs for all of us. And that's never changed."

How about this sports year of widespread success?

"I have to tell you … our girls teams have been tremendous," Erdmann said. "We have had an incredible run of female athletes. Jessa Snippes, our softball pitcher, Metro Player of the Year, is an incredibly dedicated athlete."

There are handfuls of winning Irish seniors, and Manning mentioned Hayden Bills, the record-busting shot putter and discus state champion, and Jordan Hecht, the soccer goalie and state champion in the shot put — ''You should see her punt … I swear she can kick the ball from one end of the field to the other, and she's going to West Point!"

Bills and Hecht … just a couple more banner hangers and state championships for the Irish.

As for the one more to hang, Rosemount defeated Sartell 4-0 behind lefthander Jack Thompson's two-hitter. Another Irish win Wednesday will give Manning the privilege of putting a last banner on the already cluttered gym walls.