NCAA team championships in every sport at every level of the NCAA are all special in their own way. However, very few and far between are the national titles that transcend those boundaries as milestone achievements in sport.
In 2008, McMurry’s Barbara Crousen won one of those national titles.
In a come-from-behind, 35-31, victory over Cortland State at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Crousen became the first woman in NCAA history to coach a men’s team to a national title in any sport.
Nearly a decade later, that short list of female coaches with men’s NCAA team titles still only includes her – twice, as McMurry went on to win a second national title in 2012 – and Jennifer Michel of Western State (2011 men’s NCAA DII cross country).
In winning the 2008 national crown, her Warhawks’ performance was as dramatic as it was historic. McMurry entered the meet-finale 4×400 relay with 29 points, four behind leader Cortland, which had failed to qualify a team to the final. The odds were against Crousen’s Warhawks, who had qualified to NCAAs as the 14th and final team and had barely made the final as the seventh-fastest of the nine advancing teams in the prelims.
Anchored by Hanneus Ollison, who ultimately had a hand in 34 of McMurry’s 35 points, Crousen’s squad stepped up to the occasion and finished third in a race in which third, fourth, fifth and sixth were all separated by less than a second.
Four years later in 2012 her squad once again claimed the national title, this time in much more comfortable fashion as the Warhawks scored 66 points to topple runner-up UW-La Crosse. That team featured four national champions and 29 total All-America efforts.
With a McMurry transition to NCAA DII starting the following year in 2013 and Crousen announcing her retirement the year after in 2014, that national title capped an era in which her men and women accumulated eight top-four national finishes and a combined 16 top-10 efforts.
Crousen took over the McMurry program in 1998 following 32 years of coaching in the Texas public school system and it only took her two seasons to shape the Warhawk women into a top-10 national program. Her women finished ninth in 2000, before going on to make the podium the next year with a fourth-place finish and take national runner-up honors in 2002.
Her men followed a similar trajectory just a few years later, starting with a 10th-place showing in 2004 before building up to fourth in 2006, the national title in 2008, a runner-up finish in 2009, a third-place trophy in 2011 and the final national crown in 2012.
During that time, her teams claimed 14 American Southwest Conference men’s titles and 10 more women’s crowns. In all, she coached her athletes to a combined 61 individual national titles, 244 All-America honors, and more than 200 individual conference titles.
She was twice named the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year, and earned multiple national honors as a high school coach. She was inducted into the Texas Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012.