Minnesota's newcomers for next season total 15 new student-athletes joining the Maroon & Gold
Minnesota celebrated the 2016 cross country season with its annual team awards banquet Sunday
Three Gophers placed among the top-12 individual finishers to lead Minnesota at the Midwest Regional
Coaches Steve Plasencia and Sarah Hopkins preview the NCAA Midwest Regional on Friday
Hear from head coach Sarah Hopkins as Minnesota hosts its home finale on Sunday morning
Roy Griak Cross Crounty Invite
Sarah (Hesser) Hopkins serves as the head coach of the Gopher women's cross country program and is an assistant coach for the women's track & field team. The 2017 cross country season marks her fifth season as the women's cross country head coach and 13th season with the program overall.
The 2013-14 season was Hopkins' first season as the head coach of the women's cross country program after serving as a volunteer assistant for eight seasons. She replaced long-time head coach Gary Wilson following his retirement after the conclusion of the 2012-13 track & field season.
Most recently, Hopkins' 2016 Gophers earned a fourth-place finish as hosts of the Big Ten Conference Championship, earning top-five Big Ten team finishes in all four seasons with Hopkins at the helm of the program. The 2016 Gophers went on to a fourth-place showing at the Midwest Region. In 2015, Minnesota placed 18th in the program’s 11th-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships, securing the team’s highest NCAA finish since 2009. Minnesota has also earned three top-three NCAA Midwest Regional finishes since 2013, placing third in 2015 after back-to-back runner-up finishes in Hopkins’ first two seasons. Seven Gophers have earned All-Big Ten honors (Laura Docherty-2013, Molly Kayfes-2013, Maggie Bollig-2013, Liz Berkholtz-2015, Kaila Urick-2015, Madeline Strandemo-2016, Megan Hasz-2016) in Hopkins' time as head coach.
From 2005 to 2015, Minnesota qualified for every NCAA cross country championship as a team -- one of only five programs in the nation to accomplish this feat (Minnesota, Georgetown, Stanford, Michigan and Michigan State). Minnesota placed in the top 12 in the NCAA five of those 11 years. Since Hopkins joined the staff in 2005, the Gophers have won the first two Big Ten Championships in program history (2007, 2008) and picked up three consecutive Midwest Region titles (2007, 2008, 2009).
Individual athletes have also seen great success since Hopkins joined the coaching staff. During her tenure, Hopkins has worked with five different athletes who collectively earned eight NCAA All-American honors in cross country. In 2009, Megan Duwell finished a program best seventh in the NCAA. At the Big Ten level, Hopkins has coached six athletes to a total of 10 first team All-Big Ten honors and 13 athletes to second team All-Big Ten honors. An impressive 28 different Gopher runners have earned a total of 48 All-Midwest Region awards under Hopkins' guidance, including three in 2016.
On the track, Hopkins has been on the coaching staff for all five Big Ten Conference team titles in Minnesota history. The 2017 track & field season saw Hopkins coach Madeline Strandemo to Big Ten titles in the mile indoors and the 3,000m steeplechase outdoors. In 2015-16, Hopkins’ distance runners scored 43 points to help lead the Gophers to a share of the 2016 B1G outdoor title, including runner-up finishes by Liz Berkholtz (10,000m) and Strandemo (3,000m steeplechase).
Since Hopkins joined the coaching staff for the 2006 track & field season, Minnesota has collected 36 All-Big Ten awards in the distance events and had 31 NCAA Championship qualifiers in events 800-meters and longer, including 12-time NCAA qualifier Heather Dorniden making eight appearances in the 800m and four in the distance medley relay. The Gophers earned All-Big Ten honors in the DMR for five-straight seasons from 2007 to 2011.
Minnesota has seen marked improvement in the 10,000m under Hopkins with Gophers collecting four All-Big Ten awards in the event since 2009. Megan Duwell won the Big Ten 10,000m title twice (2009, 2010) and Amy Laskowske finish runner-up both years. Laskowske was an All-American at 10,000m in 2009. One of the highlights of Hopkins's coaching career on the track was a first, second, fourth finish for the Gophers in the 10,000m at the 2010 Big Ten Championships with Duwell, Laskowske and Mallory Van Ness. In 2012, Laura Docherty earned a fourth-place finish and improved to a runner-up showing at the 2013 Big Ten outdoor meet, and Liz Berkholtz earned four-straight top-eight Big Ten finishes in the 10,000m from 2013-2016. Most recently, Bailey Ness placed seventh in the 10,000m in 2017.
The Gophers have also experienced success at 5,000m indoor and outdoor during Hopkins’ tenure. Duwell earned Indoor All-American honors in 2010, placing fifth with a program-record time of 15:59.23. Docherty (2013) and Molly Kayfes (2014) earned back-to-back Big Ten indoor runner-up finishes in the 5,000m, and Berkholtz and Kaila Urick earned top-eight finishes in the event at the Big Ten indoor and outdoor meets in 2016.
Hopkins, a former Golden Gopher student-athlete on both the cross country and track & field teams, graduated Suma Cum Laude in May 2006, with a major in child psychology. She continued her education at Minnesota earning a master's degree in applied kinesiology: sport management.
The Minneapolis native was a three-time letterwinner in cross country and served as team captain as a junior and senior. She was honored as the Minnesota recipient of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship Award. Hopkins was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and awarded the Gophers' Coaches Award in her junior season. Hopkins lettered once as a member of the track & field team and was a captain her senior season.
Hopkins owns a Level 1 Track & Field/Cross Country Coaching Certificate and is the 2012-2014 USTFCCCA Midwest Region Representative to the Executive Cross Country Committee.
Hopkins and her husband Chris have one son, Jack.
Captains Corner: Madeline Strandemo
Fifth-year senior Madeline Strandemo shares her goals and expectations for the cross country season.
Captains Corner: Amelia Barczi
Gophers co-captain Amelia Barczi reflects on her journey as a Gopher so far and looks forward to the year ahead.
Captains Corner: Paige Peschel
Paige Peschel is one of five Gophers serving as team captain for the 2017 cross country season.