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.
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.
1985 Division II Outdoor Track and Field
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.
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.
1991 Division I Volleyball
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.”
1994 Division I Basketball
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.”
1994 Division I Soccer
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.
1995 Division I Basketball
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1997 Division I Outdoor Track and Field
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.
2000 Division III Swimming
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.
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.”
2001 Division III Basketball
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.
2001 Division I Lacrosse
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.
2002 Division II Outdoor Track and Field
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.
2003 Division I Softball
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.
2004 Division II Lacrosse
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.
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.
2005 Division I Softball
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.
2006 Division I Basketball
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.”
2007 National Collegiate Water Polo
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.”
2007 Division III Rowing
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.
2007 Division III Golf
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.
2008 Division I Basketball
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.
2008 Division I Volleyball
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.
2009 Division II Field Hockey
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.
2010 National Collegiate Ice Hockey
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.
2010 National Collegiate Bowling
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.
2012 Division II Volleyball
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.
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.
2014 National Collegiate Gymnastics
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.”
2014 Division I Indoor Track and Field
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.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Champion magazine.