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Ranking the top stories a challenge
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MONROE - Every December we in the sports department of The Monroe Times determine the top sports stories for the past year. Usually we come up with a Top 10 list, but this year, we had to go 11.

The obvious top choice was the Monroe girls basketball team's run to the state tournament again. Not only did the team dominate opponents all year, being led by it's Big Three of Ashley Hermanson, Gwen Sutter and Jamie Armstrong, but it was also head coach Kevin Keen's last season on the bench. Though there was no trophy ball to bring home, Monroe's return to the state games only exemplified the success of its senior class and legendary head coach.

Second on the list was Brodhead-Juda's surprise run to the state finals in football. After starting the season 1-2 with losses to two of the top teams in state, the Cardinals regrouped and were running on all cylinders as the season progressed.

Black Hawk's girls basketball team also brought back hardware from the state tournament, but unlike Brodhead-Juda's football team, the Warriors had somewhat of an expectation to reach Madison again.

Darlington's football team also had that expectation, but came up just short and lost in the semifinals. The Redbirds' undefeated regular season saw a defense keep pretty much everyone out of the end zone and an offense (and special teams, for that matter) that could score nearly at will.

As the list runs down - Monroe softball, local hall of famers and track stars - placing a number next to the memory is tough to figure out. So take the numbers with a grain of salt. Each season is memorable and there were a number of people involved in each one.

With all hope, we will have 25 great stories for 2011.