Wisconsin Outdoor Track & Field
Under six-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Peter Tegen, the Wisconsin outdoor track and field team won four consecutive Big Ten Championships and twice finished in the top ten of the NCAA Championships in the mid-1980s. In 1983 the Badgers kicked off a string of 22-straight appearances in the NCAA Championships, in which they have earned 18 individual titles. It was also in 1983 that Wisconsin won its first of four-straight conference titles after winning the unofficial meets from 1978-1981. The Badgers edged Michigan by just one point to take the 1983 crown, but increased that number to 10 points in 1984, and a combined margin of victory of 65 points in 1985 and 1986.
Four-time NCAA Champion Cathy Branta led the pack of Wisconsin distance runners in the Big Ten Championships. Branta won eight conference titles in her career and was a 1985 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient. In 1984 Branta won her first NCAA title in the no-longer-contested 3,000-meter event and in 1985, repeated in the 3,000 and added a 1,500-meter championship to her impressive resume.
Branta was joined in the distance events in 1985 by Stephanie Herbst, who would go on to become a four-time All-Big Ten honoree. Herbst still holds outdoor championship records in both the 3,000- and the 10,000-meter events, both of which she set in 1986. The seven-time conference champion also won the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events at the NCAA Championships that year.
The distance runners led a strong contingent of Badgers into the NCAA Championship in 1984 and 1986, and as a team they finished in seventh place each time. Overall, 12 athletes from 1983-86 earned a total of 19 All-Big Ten honors. Sharon Dollins earned three All-Conference awards (1984-85-86), followed by two-time honorees Dorothea Brown (1984-85), Katie Ishmael (1984-85), Kristi Kropp (1985-86) and Carol Harris (1986-87).
The Wisconsin teams of the early 1980s set a standard of excellence in track and field that continues in Madison today, some 13 Big Ten outdoor track and field titles later.