Last weekend’s state championships in soccer and track and field brought the 2016-17 high school sports season to an end.
After 56 team champions were crowned for the school year, four schools stood above the rest to win the Star-Tribune All-Sports Awards.
The Star-Tribune has honored high school sports programs for their year-round success since the 1999-2000 academic year, with teams earning points based on how they finish at state-culminating events.
This year’s combined winners were Gillette in Class 4A, Star Valley in 3A, Big Horn in 2A and Cokeville in 1A.
It marked the 10th year in a row, and the 17th time in the 18-year history of the All-Sports Awards, Gillette has garnered the top spot in the state’s largest classification. Cokeville won for the 12th time overall and Star Valley for the third. Big Horn, on the other hand, had never won a combined title before this season.
“We’ve got outstanding coaches who do a great job of facilitating the kids’ goals, both athletically and academically,” Big Horn activities director Mike Daley said.
The Kelly Walsh boys grabbed their first All-Sports Award on the strength of state titles in basketball — the Trojans’ first since 1981 — and track and field — their second in a row.
Kelly Walsh also finished second in both golf and cross-country and third in swimming, alpine skiing and soccer.
“The coaches and the kids put in hard work all year and this is the fruit of their labor,” first-year KW activities director A.J. Nathan said. “Obviously, the foundation was already in place with what (former AD) Amy (Rose) and the other staff members did. I just had to make sure not to mess things up.”
The Gillette girls parlayed an outstanding spring season, winning both the track and field and soccer championships, to their fifth consecutive All-Sports Award.
The Camels also won state titles in swimming and indoor track, and finished runners-up in tennis and basketball.
The Gillette boys, who finished second to Kelly Walsh, added state championships in indoor track, swimming and tennis to help the Camels hold off second-place Laramie for the combined title.
Star Valley swept the 3A awards in convincing fashion.
The Braves won the combined title by 71 points over runner-up Cody, the boys finished 37 points clear of second-place finishers Cody and Riverton, and the girls topped Cody by 34 points.
“It was an incredible year for sure,” Star Valley football coach McKay Young said in an email.
That it was.
Both the Star Valley boys and girls teams won state championships in all three seasons, with the boys finishing at the top in football, cross-country, wrestling and track and field. The girls added titles in volleyball, cross-country, basketball and track and field.
The combined title was Star Valley’s first since the 2012-13 school year.
Big Horn might not have been as dominant throughout the year as was Star Valley, but the Rams were still the runaway winners of the combined title.
Big Horn finished with 97 points (49 for the boys, 48 for the girls) to 69 for runner-up Lovell. Pine Bluffs, which won the combined title last year, was third with 66.
“For a small school, we’ve got a lot of talent,” Daley said. “And we’ve got a lot of leadership.”
The boys only state championship came in football, but they added a third-place finish at last week’s state track and field meet to hold off Rocky Mountain, which finished with 43 points.
The Big Horn girls started the sports year by placing third at state golf before winning state titles in both basketball and track and field.
While Cokeville won the combined title for the 11th year, fellow Southwest Conference members Farson and Encampment won All-Sports Awards for the first time.
The Farson boys actually tied Cokeville atop the standings with 35 points and the Encampment girls finished with 51.5 points to 37 for runner-up Cokeville.
“This is amazing,” Farson activities director Dan Mitchelson said. “We’ve got great kids, great coaches and great parents. All those recipes came together to create success this year.
“We’ve come a long ways.”
Mitchelson isn’t kidding. The Pronghorns finished 0-8 in football in 2012 and went a combined 2-40 in basketball in the 2011-12 (0-21) and 2012-13 (2-19) seasons.
This year, Farson advanced to its first 1A/6-man state football championship before losing to Kaycee and the basketball team finished 14-14 and qualified for state for the first time since 2006. The Pronghorns also placed fifth at the state track and field meet.
The Cokeville boys finished second in track, fourth in wrestling and lost in the quarterfinals of the 1A/11-man state football playoffs.
The Encampment girls began the year with a third-place finish in volleyball before winning basketball and placing second at state track and field.
“We have an exceptional set of girls,” said Clint Bromley, the school’s activities director as well as the girls head basketball coach. “They’ve always been very coachable and they’ve represented the school to the best of their abilities.
“This is quite an honor. I’m extremely proud of them.”