In the 1980s, Big Ten Women's Cross Country success was ruled by the Wisconsin Badgers. After finishing second three-consecutive years in the Big Ten Championship, the Badgers ignited a historic streak that included six-straight Big Ten titles from 1983-88, seven-consecutive individual champions (82-88) and two NCAA titles.
Wisconsin won the 1983 conference championship behind Cathy Branta, who successfully defended her individual title from 1982. A perfect year followed in 1984 as the Badgers completed the season winning back-to-back Big Ten titles and their first NCAA Championship crown. Behind Branta's individual championship, Wisconsin won the national championship with 63 points in State College, Pa. The Badgers picked up a record four All-America honors for their efforts. Branta, who claimed her third-straight Big Ten gold in 1984, completed her career as the Wisconsin's second three-time Big Ten champion during an era of seven-consecutive Badger individual titles.
Wisconsin repeated as NCAA champion in 1985 with Big Ten individual winner Stephanie Herbst leading the way. Cheered on by a large home-state crowd in Milwaukee, the Badgers cruised by Iowa State to win by 40 points. A sophomore, Herbst finished seventh at the NCAA meet and extended the Badgers' string of Big Ten individual champions to eight in a row. Wisconsin commanded the field, scoring the lowest point total in championship history (22) on the way to its third-straight Big Ten team title. Head coach Peter Tegen was also honored by his coaching peers as Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Herbst won her second consecutive individual Big Ten title in 1986, marking the ninth-straight individual champion from Wisconsin, en route to the Badgers' fourth - and most dominate - conference crown. Behind Herbst's performance, the Badgers set a record for largest winning margin with 85 points between them and a second place finish. Despite finishing three points shy of a third national title that year, the Badgers raced to the next two Big Ten team trophies and Tegen was again honored as the conference's top coach in 1988.