Similar to the scene in indoor track and field, three Big Ten teams - Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin - have dominated the outdoor season over the past 25 years. Combined, the three teams have earned 19 conference titles, led by the Badgers (8), Wolverines (6) and Fighting Illini (5). Indiana and Purdue have earned two championships apiece, while Michigan State and Minnesota have each claimed "bookend" titles. The Spartans claimed their lone crown in the first-ever conference championship in 1982, while the Golden Gophers earned their first in 2006 - the 25th event in Big Ten history.
A year after MSU won the inaugural outdoor title, Wisconsin claimed its first of four-straight championships and was led by a pair of NCAA champions in Cathy Branta and Stephanie Herbst. Branta was a back-to-back national champion in the 3,000-meter run in 1984 and 1985, and captured the 1,500-meter run title in 1985 as well. Herbst took home two NCAA championships in 1986, with wins in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter run. The most notable Badger standout was Suzy Favor, who claimed the NCAA 1,500-meter run championship in all four years between 1987-90 and was also the 800-meter run NCAA champion in 1990. A three-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year honoree in the outdoor season, Favor was also named Athlete of the Championships at the 1988 and 1990 conference events.
Michigan's success has been attributed to several student-athletes under the direction of James Henry, the conference's leader with six Big Ten Coach of the Year awards. The Wolverines' April Phillips was named the 2003 Athlete of the Year when she helped U-M to the second of its three-straight Big Ten titles. As for Illinois, head coach Gary Winckler has won the conference's top coaching honor five times, including in 2005 when the Illini earned their first Big Ten championship in more than a decade. Winckler has guided six Athlete of the Year honorees, including Leticia Beverly (1989), Tonja Buford (1992, 1993), Tonya Williams (1996), Perdita Felicien (2001) and Cassie Hunt (2006). Indiana won both of its Big Ten titles in 2000 and 2001 and helped earn Randy Heisler the conference's Coach of the Year award in each of those years. Three notable Hoosiers that displayed lots of speed as shown in the conference records books were four-time All-Big Ten honorees Rachelle Boone, Danielle Carruthers and Rose Richmond from 2000-03.
Wisconsin's Peter Tegen ranks third all-time among Big Ten Coach of the Year award winners, as he was honored four times in 1990, 1991, 1996 and 1997. Michigan State's Sevatheda Fynes, a 1997 NCAA champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, also owns the conference's records in those events, running :11.09 and :22.51, respectively. Overall, 31 Big Ten student-athletes have become four-time All-Conference honorees, including Wisconsin's Mary Hartzheim, who was named to the first team a combined five times between indoor and outdoor seasons.