2011 was a year good year for sports. Basketball dominated the headlines, but the Royals showed remarkable success in every season—with just enough drama mixed in to remind us why we love high school sports so much.
Here’s a look at the biggest sports stories of the year:
- Boys and girls basketball teams continue their reign: You could see it all in the three fingers that Hopkins boys basketball players held up as the clocked ticked down the final seconds of : Three-peat, the first in the school’s history. The win capped a remarkable hoops season that saw both the boys and girls teams . Their seasons were eerily similar. Both boys and girls appeared invincible. Both were upset by Eden Prairie mid-season. Both avenged their lone loss later in the season. And both defeated the Eagles in the championship. Talent, not chance, led to the team’s success. Star Joe Coleman went on to be named Mr. Basketball. He and Marvin Singleton are already putting points on the board for D-I schools, while Brianna Williams is doing the same at the University of North Dakota. The talent isn’t just on the court. Boys Coach Ken Novak Jr. and have the teams . Hopkins’ girls are ranked No. 1 in class 4A in a season that so far has them going 9-0. The boys are ranked No. 2 in class 4A following .
- Hopkins wrestlers return to state: The Hopkins wrestling team hadn’t been to the state tournament since 1989. As the 2010-11 season drew to a close, it didn’t look like this year would be any different. The path to state led through two teams, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, that had beaten the Royals earlier in the season. Hopkins wasn’t going to be denied, though. The Royals wound up and sent six wrestlers individually to state for the first time since 1963. Although they lost to Albert Lea in the first round, the shattered barrier marked a resurgence that has .
- Hopkins softball claims third in state: After a 17-2 regular season, Hopkins entered the Section 6AAA tournament as the top seed. The team beat Edina and Orono to reach the final against second-seeded Wayzata with a trip to the state tournament on the line. Hopkins defeated Wayzata 9-2 and for the third time in four years. The Royals won their opening round game against Shakopee but lost to Hastings. They then edged out North St. Paul 5-4 to .
- Football section competition gets more difficult: it will move to a six-class, 11-man state tournament beginning in 2012. If recent history reveals anything, it’s that Section 6AAAAAA will be the gateway to the state championship. Section 6AAAAAA will have Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Shakopee, Wayzata and Minneapolis South competing for a trip to state. Since 2004, Eden Prairie, Wayzata and Minnetonka have won six of the seven Class 5A championships. In that span, the three teams have gone undefeated a combined four times. The teams will remain in Class 5A for the 2011 season and will move to the new section the following fall. Look for some tough play next year.
- Boys Nordic skiers wins Lake Conference title: Hopkins hadn’t captured a Lake conference title in any sport since 1993, the year that most of their teams moved to the Classic Lake conference. But led by senior , the Royals edged out Minnetonka and Wayzata on Feb. 3 to take the conference title.
- Hopkins girls dominate track and field: The Royals already boasted ample track and field success when they entered this year’s state tournament. The girls won championships in both 2010 and 2008. They also won this year’s conference title, and . So it seemed almost inevitable when —blowing past the second-place team 84 points to 48. Such success makes it easy to take the team’s talent for granted. But as if to add an exclamation point to an already outstanding season, the girls .
Be sure to check out the entire series, to be published on the following dates:
- Dec. 26:
- Dec. 27:
- Dec. 28: Hopkins Sports
- Dec. 29: Hopkins Crime
- Dec. 30: Hopkins Schools
- Dec. 31: Editor’s Choice
- Jan. 1: Most-Read Stories