Those who witnessed Friday and Saturday's Greasy Pole Competitions were hardly surprised at the result of Sunday's Competition. In fact, everyone was expecting it.
Still, all of the pressure was on Derek Hopkins, who made it look easy in snatching the greasy pole flag in the two previous days. On Sunday, he made it look easy again as he picked up his third straight win in the second round to complete the triple crown.
Sunday's win makes Hopkins just the second walker to ever capture the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Greasy Pole flags in the same year. Jake Wood, a seven-time champ, was the first to do it back in 1999, the first year of the Friday competition.
"I was hoping (for three in a row) but I never expected it," Hopkins said. "I was just hoping for the best each day. This is absolutely crazy. I've been dreaming of this for so long but never thought I'd be able to get all three."
Hopkins, a recent Gloucester High School graduate, was so dominant that he made sure no other competitor even had a chance at victory on both Saturday and Sunday.
After winning on Friday as walker No. 39 out of 50 on the roster, he took down the flag as walker No. 1 in the second round as the first walker eligible to win as each walker gets a chance in the opening round, the courtesy round. In the first two days, both of his courtesy round walks could have been winning walks as well.
That brings us to Sunday, where the pressure heightens as Hopkins was on the platform with a group of more than a dozen former champs, a lot of them multiple time champs.
One of those champs was his father, Rich Hopkins, the 1996 and 1997 Sunday champ who has not walked in a while, but put his name on the list after Saturday's win for the chance to walk with his son.
As Saturday's winner, Derek Hopkins again got the first crack at victory, and given the caliber of the walkers behind him, it was probably his only chance to win.
After the courtesy round, Hopkins stepped up onto the pole on the platform, when he was hit with a little surprise.
"When they called my name and I stepped up, the wind started to blow," the now three-time champ said. "I turned around to the rest of the guys and said 'Oh man, it just got windy.' I just went for it."
Hopkins went hard out of the gates and looked like his flawless self for the first half of his 40-foot trek. He admittedly took a little slip about two-thirds of the way out, the only thing close to a blemish on his perfect weekend, but he quickly regained his footing and plowed through some deep grease in the final few feet to once again take down the flag.
"I got a few steps in and almost fell to my left," he said. "But I corrected myself and got going. Once I was a few steps away, I knew I had it."
He also channeled his father at the end of his walk as he slid into the flag, stopped and looked at the crowed, quickly giving a little wave, the way his father did in 1997, before falling into the ocean. The only difference, Derek was able to take down the flag after his wave, Rich did not, but won anyway in the next round.