South Dakota State’s Kristin Asp (left) and Vicki Coyle pace each other in 1981. NCAA Photos Archive

1

1981 Division II Cross Country

South Dakota State

In one of the first NCAA women’s championships, South Dakota State University delivered an outstanding performance. All five Jackrabbits – Vicki Coyle (second overall), Kristin Asp (third), Audry Stavrum (fifth), Nancy Gieske (seventh) and Lori Bocklund (ninth) – finished in the top 10, helping their team score 26 points and capture the national title.

Tracy Caulkins went on to win three gold medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Tony Duffy / Getty Images

2

1982 Division I Swimming and Diving

Tracy Caulkins, Florida

Tracy Caulkins won five individual events, catapulting the University of Florida to the first team title in the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

Abilene Christian’s Ann Foster was four-time NCAA Division II triple jump champion. Abilene Christian University Photo

3

1985 Division II Outdoor Track and Field

Abilene Christian

Buzzer beaters are normally associated with basketball, but they became relevant in the 1985 Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships when Abilene Christian University’s Ann Foster leaped 41 feet, 9½ inches in the waning moments. Foster’s triple-jump victory enabled Abilene Christian to edge three-time defending champion California Polytechnic State University, 106-103, in the final standings.

Principia’s Courtney Allen had a 116-14 career record in singles. ITA Photo

4

1987 Division III Tennis

Courtney Allen, Principia

Courtney Allen closed out her career by winning the individual singles and doubles titles at the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships. The accomplishment gave Allen an NCAA-record six individual championships in her career. She had also won singles titles in 1984 and 1985 and doubles championships in 1984 and 1986.

UCLA’s Natalie Williams led the Bruins to back-to-back national titles. Pennsylvania State University Photo

5

1991 Division I Volleyball

UCLA

In the days before rally scoring, the University of California, Los Angeles, stormed from two sets down to beat Long Beach State University, 12-15, 13-15, 15-12, 15-6, 15-11, to win the NCAA championship. All-American Natalie Williams, who was also a standout for the Bruins basketball team, registered 32 kills, 17 digs and seven blocks to snap Long Beach State’s 21-match winning streak. “The kids dug down and pulled it out,” UCLA coach Andy Banachowski told the media after the match. “I’m just drained. This is heart attack territory.”

Charlotte Smith made only eight 3-pointers all season before hitting one worth a national championship. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Photo

6

1994 Division I Basketball

North Carolina

All the times practicing a shot to win a championship paid off for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Charlotte Smith in the championship game of the 1994 Women’s Final Four. With her team trailing Louisiana Tech University, 59-57, and seven-tenths of a second remaining in the game, the Tar Heels were set to inbound the ball from underneath the basket in the frontcourt, and coach Sylvia Hatchell drew up a play for Smith to take a three-point shot.

Being designated as the key person on the play didn’t resonate with Smith right away.

“Pam Thomas (of Louisiana Tech) had hit an amazing shot seconds earlier to put them ahead,” Smith told the NCAA News. “I remember feeling numb and thinking we were about to lose the game.”

North Carolina used Kodak All-American Tonya Sampson as a decoy and designed the 3-pointer for Smith – despite the fact she had made only eight field goals beyond the arc all season.

Stephanie Lawrence made a pass over a defender and underneath the backboard to the open Smith.

“At that point, it was just catch and release,” Smith said. “When it went in, I was overwhelmed, elated. I was every adjective you could think of.”

Hatchell added: “That’s the kind of shot that changes your life. It made us No. 1, and we all got beautiful championship rings.”

North Carolina’s Danielle Egan moves the ball downfield. NCAA Photos Archive

7

1994 Division I Soccer

North Carolina

North Carolina continued a dominant streak by capturing its ninth consecutive NCAA title with a 5-0 win over the University of Notre Dame. Tisha Venturini scored twice to lead North Carolina to the victory that capped its impressive 206-2-8 stretch over nine years.

UConn’s Rebecca Lobo makes a pass over Tennessee’s Michelle Johnson. NCAA Photos Archive

8

1995 Division I Basketball

Connecticut

This victory launched the University of Connecticut women’s basketball dynasty. Behind the efforts of All-American Rebecca Lobo, the Huskies completed a 35-0 season by downing the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 70-64, in the national championship game. UConn has won 10 NCAA titles and is looking for what would be an NCAA Division I record fourth straight in 2016.

Jenny Hansen of Kentucky celebrates after winning the overall competition during the 1995 Division I Women's Gymnastics Championship April 22 in Athens, Georgia. NCAA Photos Archive

9

1995 National Collegiate Gymnastics

Jenny Hansen

Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen became the only woman to win three consecutive NCAA all-around championships in gymnastics. Hansen also won individual national titles in the balance beam and vault twice and added a floor exercise in 1995.

North Dakota State’s Rachael Otto (22) drives down the lane. NCAA Photos Archive

10

1996 Division II Basketball

North Dakota State

North Dakota State University set a Division II championship game record for points scored in defeating Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, 104-78. The win marked the fourth straight national title for the Bison, who went 119-9 over that stretch.

Olga Kalinovskaya wins her fourth foil title in 1996. NCAA Photos Archive

11

1996 National Collegiate Fencing

Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State

Pennsylvania State University’s Olga Kalinovskaya ended her stellar career by defeating Notre Dame’s Sara Walsh, 15-4, in women’s foil, becoming the only fencer in NCAA history to win four consecutive individual titles in one fencing event.

Marisa Baena’s eagle on the first playoff hole of the 1996 Division I Women’s Golf Championships gave Arizona the title. NCAA Photos Archive

12

1996 Division I Golf

Marisa Baena, Arizona

When the University of Arizona tied with San Jose State University, the tournament went to a playoff – but the format was more complicated than in individual competition. Five players from each team played the 18th hole in two groups. The teams could discard the highest score on the hole, then total the remaining scores to see which team completed the hole in the fewest shots.

Two Arizona players and three from San Jose State played in the first group. Marisa Baena and two of her teammates played in the second group with two San Jose State players.

After her tee shot, Baena found herself 147 yards from the hole. On her shot to the green, she hit an 8-iron. The ball took one bounce, then disappeared into the hole for an eagle 2.

“It was all over the pin,” Baena said. “The next thing I know, everybody was screaming. I heard people yelling, ‘Oh, my God,’ and they were jumping up and down.”

After the playoff scores were tallied, Arizona took home the team title by one shot.

Franklin Pierce College midfielder Mira Hakkarainen (18) rushes in to congratulate her teammate forward Pauliina Miettinen (16) after Miettinen scored on a penalty kick during the Division II Women's Soccer Championship held at Toro Field on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, Ca. NCAA Photos Archive

13

1997 Division II Soccer

Franklin Pierce

The Franklin Pierce women became the only Division II team to capture four consecutive NCAA titles with a 3-0 win over West Virginia Wesleyan. The Ravens went a combined 78-1 in their four-year national championship reign.

Utah’s Christl Hager won her record third giant slalom title in 1997 in 2:14.39. NCAA Photos Archive

14

1997 National Collegiate Skiing

Christl Hager, Utah

The University of Utah’s Christl Hager won her third individual NCAA women’s giant slalom title, which tied a national record. She also won the giant slalom in 1994 and 1995.

Florida's Stephanie Nickitas (left) and Dawn Buth (right) congratulate each other after defeating Texas's Cristina Moros and Farley Taylor 6-1,6-3 during the NCAA Division I Women's Doubles Tennis Championships at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee. FL. NCAA Photos Archive

15

1997 Division I Women’s Tennis

Dawn Buth, Stephanie Nickitas

Florida’s Dawn Buth and Stephanie Nickitas became the first set of teammates to capture back-to-back Division I doubles championships. Buth and Nickitas finished their collegiate careers with a 91-8 record as doubles partners.

The LSU women’s track and field team accepts the NCAA trophy. NCAA Photos Archive

16

1997 Division I Outdoor Track and Field

LSU

Louisiana State University’s quest for an 11th consecutive outdoor NCAA title seemed to be over until the Tigers scored 43 points on the final day. LSU found itself trailing by 26 points with nine events remaining, but its closing burst edged out the University of Texas at Arlington, 63-62.

Kenyon’s Sarah Leone won the 100-yard freestyle of the 2000 Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. NCAA Photos Archive

17

2000 Division III Swimming

Kenyon

Kenyon College claimed its 17th consecutive Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships by winning six individual titles and two relays and outscoring runner-up Denison University by more than 200 points. The emotional win came just two months after a team van accident claimed the life of co-captain Molly Hatcher.

The College of New Jersey midfielder Cara Gabage pumps her fist. NCAA Photos Archive

18

2000 Division III Soccer

The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey and Tufts University were tied, 1-1, in the championship match. In the waning seconds, The College of New Jersey’s Denise Buckley, who had scored the game’s first goal nine minutes into the match, made a strong run down the left flank, where she sent a centering pass toward junior Lisa Pelligrino. Tufts goalkeeper Randee McArdle batted the ball before it reached the attacking Pelligrino, but she couldn’t control the rebound.

Pelligrino took a shot, and again McArdle made the save. This time, the rebound popped straight into the air, where Cara Gabage raced over to head the loose ball into the net with three seconds remaining. The shot gave her program its third national title. The partisan crowd supporting the homestanding Tufts team could only watch in stunned silence.

“All I remember is we made a mad dash toward the goal,” Gabage told Champion magazine in 2008. “Their fans were wrapped around all three sides of the stands and going crazy after they scored to tie the game (in the 77th minute). I was the kind of player, when something like that happened, it got me going more.”

Washington-St. Louis’ Lindsey Merrill (left) celebrates with a teammate. NCAA Photos Archive

19

2001 Division III Basketball

Washington-St. Louis

Tasha Rodgers of Washington University in St. Louis had career highs of 36 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bears to their fourth consecutive Division III women’s basketball title with a 67-45 win over Messiah College. The Bears, who won 81 straight games during the best stretch of their four-year championship run, joined Division II’s North Dakota State (1993-96) as the only NCAA women’s basketball teams with four straight national titles.

Maryland’s Jen Adams unleashes a pass during the 2001 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championships. NCAA Photos Archive

20

2001 Division I Lacrosse

Maryland

Allison Comito scored with eight seconds remaining in triple overtime to lift the University of Maryland, College Park, over Georgetown University, 14-13, and give the Terrapins their seventh straight NCAA lacrosse championship. Maryland went 140-5 over its seven-year championship run and finished the 2001 season 23-0.

St. Augustine’s Libia Rodriguez crosses the finish line in the 1,600-meter relay. NCAA Photos Archive

21

2002 Division II Outdoor Track and Field

Saint Augustine’s

Saint Augustine’s University won its third consecutive team title in the Division II Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in dramatic fashion. The Falcons trailed North Dakota State by one point heading into the final event: the 1,600-meter relay. Georgia Mullings, Camethia Baker, Shakirah Rutherford and Libia Rodriguez responded with a winning time of 3 minutes, 36.86 seconds to earn 10 team points and a 54-53 Falcons victory.

UCLA’s Keira Goerl’s no-hitter against California in 2003 is the only one ever thrown in the WCWS championship game. NCAA Photos Archive

22

2003 Division I Softball

UCLA

UCLA pitcher Keira Goerl threw a nine-inning no-hitter in the title game of the Women’s College World Series as the Bruins outlasted defending champion University of California, Berkeley, 1-0. It is the only no-hitter in a Women’s College World Series championship game. The Bruins had battled through the losers bracket after dropping their first game of the series – and had to beat Texas All-America pitcher Cat Osterman twice to advance to the championship game.

Adelphi captains Christie Ruppert (14), Catherine Perez (1) and Katherine Hock (16) pose with the trophy. NCAA Photos Archive

23

2004 Division II Lacrosse

Adelphi

Adelphi University junior Katherine Hock’s six second-half goals led the Panthers to a 12-11 victory over West Chester University of Pennsylvania, part of the inaugural Division II National Championships Festival in Orlando, Florida. The win was Adelphi’s first championship for a women’s program at the school.

Missy Buttry won three cross country national titles for Wartburg. NCAA Photos Archive

24

2004 Division III Cross County

Missy Buttry, Wartburg

Missy Buttry of Wartburg College became the first woman in any division to win three individual NCAA cross country championships. Buttry finished 24 seconds ahead of Liz Woodworth of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, who claimed runner-up honors for the second consecutive year. Relatively speaking, Buttry’s win was her closest championships victory. She won as a sophomore by just under a minute, then beat Woodworth the next year by slightly more than a minute. On a cool, windy day in 2004, Buttry ran about 21 seconds slower than the previous year, enabling Woodworth to cut the gap in half. But Buttry retained command of the race throughout.

Michigan players celebrate after the final out of the 2005 Women’s College World Series. NCAA Photos Archive

25

2005 Division I Softball

Michigan

A seismic power shift took place in Division I softball when the University of Michigan became the first team east of the Mississippi River to take the championship trophy. The Wolverines, who had been ranked No. 1 most of the season, completed the historic first by rallying to defeat two-time defending champion UCLA in the best-of-three championship final of the Women’s College World Series. Michigan freshman first baseman Samantha Findlay’s three-run home run in the top of the 10th was the winning blow as the Wolverines downed UCLA, 4-1, to take the series, 2-1.

Maryland coach Brenda Frese is all smiles after her team defeated Duke for the national title. NCAA Photos Archive

26

2006 Division I Basketball

Maryland

Maryland’s Kristi Toliver hit a step-back 3-pointer over 6-foot-7-inch Duke University center Alison Bales with 6.1 seconds left to force overtime, and the Terrapins went on to defeat the Blue Devils, 78-75, in the championship game of the Women’s Final Four. Toliver, who finished with 16 points and four assists, felt the shot was good as soon as it left her hands.

“I even felt her fingertips as I was holding my follow-through,” Toliver said after the game. “So, she did a great job contesting. I just had a lot of confidence. And I knew I wanted to take the big shot, so I just took it.”

UCLA wins its 100th national championship. NCAA Photos Archive

27

2007 National Collegiate Water Polo

UCLA

UCLA won the school’s 100th overall championship by downing Stanford University, 5-4, in the 2007 water polo championship game. The victory made the Bruins the first athletics department to eclipse the century mark in championships.

“Throughout the tournament, we never mentioned anything about winning the 100th championship for our school. We didn’t allow that to distract us, and I think that was why we were so successful,” UCLA goalkeeper Emily Feher told the media after the game. “For us, it was just another number. And now that we can think about it, it’s pretty awesome.”

Williams has established a rowing dynasty in Division III, with eight national titles dating to 2006. NCAA Photos Archive

28

2007 Division III Rowing

Williams

Williams College rowed to victory in the Varsity I Eights grand final to wrap up its second consecutive Division III national championship. The Ephs went on to win eight straight NCAA titles before the streak was ended by Trinity College (Connecticut) in 2014.

Methodist’s Katie Dick watches a tee shot in the final round of the 2007 golf championship. NCAA Photos Archive

29

2007 Division III Golf

Methodist

The NCAA Division III Women’s Golf Championships began in 2000, and for the first 13 years of its existence, Methodist University took home the championship trophy. The Monarchs were at their most dominant in 2007 when they captured the title by an NCAA-record 88 strokes over second-place DePauw University.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt took over as the Volunteers head coach at age 22 and finished with 1,098 victories. NCAA Photos Archive

30

2008 Division I Basketball

Pat Summitt

No list about NCAA women’s championships would be complete without mentioning legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. The Lady Vols captured Summitt’s eighth and final NCAA title with a 64-48 victory over Stanford in the 2008 Women’s Final Four. Summitt retired from coaching in 2012 with a record 1,098 career wins.

Penn State’s Alisha Glass makes a set in the championship match. NCAA Photos Archive

31

2008 Division I Volleyball

Penn State

Penn State finished off a 38-0 season by beating Stanford, 25-20, 26-24, 25-23, in the finals of the Division I tournament. The Nittany Lions were so dominant that they won an NCAA-record 111 straight sets dating from the national championship match in 2007 until the 2008 national semifinals.

Bloomsburg’s field hockey team celebrated another championship. NCAA Photos Archive

32

2009 Division II Field Hockey

Bloomsburg

The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania field hockey team sent coach Jan Hutchinson out in style by winning the national title with a 3-2 victory over the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Hutchinson had announced her plans to retire that year, and the win ended her stellar career with 13 Division II national titles and a 591-75-20 record. She remains the NCAA all-time leader in career coaching wins in field hockey.

Minnesota-Duluth’s Jessica Wong tallied the winning goal in the Women’s Frozen Four. NCAA Photos Archive

33

2010 National Collegiate Ice Hockey

Minnesota-Duluth

Jessica Wong scored with 33.6 seconds remaining in the third overtime to give the University of Minnesota Duluth a 3-2 victory over Cornell University in the championship game. It was the longest women’s ice hockey championship game, surpassing Minnesota Duluth’s 4-3 double-overtime win over Harvard in 2003.

Fairleigh Dickinson rallied to win the final two games to capture the 2010 bowling national title. NCAA Photos Archive

34

2010 National Collegiate Bowling

Fairleigh Dickinson

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus, rallied for wins the last two games of the final to down the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 4-3, and win the championship. The Knights won Game 6, 230-190, and took the decisive game of the match, 208-174. It was fitting that senior Erica Perez from Carteret, New Jersey, about 10 miles from the championship venue, knocked down the final pins.

Western Washington University celebrates their victory following the Eights Grand Final during the 2011 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing Championship hosted by Washington State University held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, CA. NCAA Photos Archive

35

2011 Division II Rowing

Western Washington

Western Washington captured the Division II national title for the seventh consecutive year. The Vikings also won the Division II NCAA title in 2017, meaning the program has won half of the national trophies since Division II began holding the championship in 2002.

Cassie Haag and her Concordia-St. Paul teammates never panicked as they rallied to win their sixth straight title. NCAA Photos Archive

36

2012 Division II Volleyball

Concordia-St. Paul

Concordia University, St. Paul, claimed its record-tying sixth consecutive Division II Women’s Volleyball Championship, defeating the University of Tampa in an epic five-set thriller (27-29, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 16-14) in the tournament finals. After dropping the first two sets, Concordia-St. Paul coach Brady Starkey gave his team an impassioned piece of advice. “We’ve got them right where we want them,” he said. “This is you guys all the way. Nothing will feel better than coming back from down 0-2 and to win in five.” And in that moment, he never sensed panic from his team. Said Starkey: “They were all like, ‘We’re good!’” The Golden Bears set a new record with their seventh straight championship the following season.

Petra Zublasing’s smallbore and air rifle titles in 2013 helped West Virginia win its first of three straight national championships. NCAA Photos Archive

37

2013 National Collegiate Rifle

Petra Zublasing, West Virginia

Petra Zublasing won both the smallbore and air rifle individual events to lead West Virginia University to the team title. She is the only woman to win both events in the same year.

How did Oklahoma and Florida react to an unprecedented tie for the gymnastics championship? They celebrated together. NCAA Photos Archive

38

2014 National Collegiate Gymnastics

Florida, Oklahoma

When the final scores were allotted in the National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships, the results were unprecedented: Florida and the University of Oklahoma were tied at 198.175. Neither team was quite sure how to react: What did the rule book call for as a tiebreaker?

As it turned out, women’s gymnastics does not outline a way to settle a tie. The Gators and Sooners were declared co-champions.

“Personally, I think a tie is one of the best ways to do it,” said Florida’s Bridget Sloan, a 2008 Olympian and a member of Florida’s 2013 national championship team. “Not only did we get this incredible score, but there’s no reason to break a tie when both teams did phenomenal. A tiebreaker kind of ruins that feeling of being accomplished. Not only are we repeating, but we’re making history.”

Oregon’s Phyllis Francis and Texas’ Ashley Spencer battle down the stretch of the 1,600-meter relay. NCAA Photos Archive

39

2014 Division I Indoor Track and Field

Oregon

Individual track and field events are usually settled by the slimmest of margins. But in the 2014 Division I Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, the entire team title came down to the last leg of the last event, with the University of Oregon’s Phyllis Francis edging Texas’ Ashley Spencer in the 1,600-meter relay. The finish allowed Oregon to win the NCAA title, 44-43.5, over the Longhorns.

Cassie Ruscz (30) of Tufts University is congratulated by teammates during the Division III Softball Championship held at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, VA. NCAA Photos Archive

40

2015 Division III Softball

Tufts

Tufts finished a perfect 51-0 season by rallying to defeat Texas-Tyler 7-4 in the championship game. The Jumbos scored six runs in the top of the sixth inning and added an insurance run in the seventh. The victory also gave Tufts its third consecutive national title.

Nicolette Martin (35) and Allie Wheeler (12) of the University of Southern California celebrate their win during the National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship held at the Beach at Gulf Shores in Gulf Shores, AL. NCAA Photos Archive

41

2016 National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship

Southern California

The NCAA’s 90th championship came to fruition in May 2016. After three days of competition in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Southern California capped off winning the inaugural beach volleyball title by jumping into the Gulf of Mexico to celebrate.

The road to the first beach volleyball championship started in 2008 when the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics received notice that 10 schools planned to start varsity teams. This commitment meant it was added to the list for emerging sports for women. After more than 40 schools added the sport over the next few years, beach volleyball became a championship, which included being televised by Turner’s family of networks.

Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Morgan William (2) shoots the game-winning shot in overtime over Connecticut Huskies forward Gabby Williams (15) in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

42

2017 Division I Women’s Basketball

Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s Morgan William shocked the women’s basketball world by sinking a 15-foot jumper at the overtime buzzer to down UConn 66-64 in the semifinals of the Women’s Final Four. The shot toppled the dynastic Huskies, who saw their string of 111 straight victories and four consecutive national championships come to a stunning end. William’s shot also handed UConn its first defeat in 865 days.

“We beat the greatest team, with the greatest streak in the history of sports. We’re very proud of that,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.

Plattsburgh State defender Erin Brand (28) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to win the Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship at Arrington Ice Arena in Adrian, Michigan. Tony Ding / NCAA Photos

43

2017 Division III Ice Hockey

Plattsburgh State

Plattsburgh State captured its fourth consecutive Division III national title when Erin Brand scored at 10:34 into overtime to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 victory over Adrian. Plattsburgh State ended the season with a 22-game unbeaten streak.

Members of the McKendree Bearcats congratulate Lauren Pate (9) during the National Collegiate Women's Bowling Championship held at the Baton Rouge River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Tim Nwachukwu / NCAA Photos

44

2017 National Collegiate Bowling

McKendree

McKendree became the first Division II team to win the NCAA bowling championship. The Bearcats accomplished the feat by sweeping five-time national champion Nebraska. McKendree’s 4-0 victory was the first title-match sweep in the championship’s 14 years.

Oklahoma players defeated Florida 5-4 in Game 2 of the Division I Women’s Softball Championship in Oklahoma City. Tim Nwachukwu / NCAA Photos

45

2017 Division I Women’s Softball

Oklahoma

Oklahoma and Florida locked into a battle of wills in Game 1 of the championship series. The Sooners and Gators battled for a record 17 innings before Oklahoma’s Shay Knighten hit a three-run homer in the top of the frame to lead her team to a 7-5 victory. The Sooners defeated the top-seeded Gators 5-4 the next night to win their second consecutive national title.

 


This story originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Champion magazine.