Bill Bergan coached at Iowa State University for 23 years, bringing the program unprecedented success in track and cross country. He guided the Cyclones to NCAA Division I men’s cross country championships in 1989 and 1994.
Bergan, a graduate of Northern Iowa where he lettered in track and cross country, coached six seasons at Waterloo Columbus High School before taking a head cross country and assistant track & field position at Iowa State.
Iowa State had finished in the bottom half of the Big Eight Conference meet for 11 consecutive years when Bergen became the university’s cross country coach in 1971. The men’s track team had finished last or next to last in conference for 21 straight years.
Three years after Bergen’s arrival, Iowa State won its first Big Eight cross country title in 43 years. Bergan became the head track & field coach in 1976. Five years later, the Cyclones won their first conference track championship in 36 years.
When Bergen retired in 1995, he had guided Iowa State to 25 Big Eight conference team championships and two NCAA titles. A former NCAA cross country and track & field coach of the year, he earned district coach-of-the-year honors 19 times.
Bergan coached 16 Olympians from six different nations, including intermediate hurdler Danny Harris and distance runner Yobes Ondieki. Harris won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics following his freshman year at Iowa State, and Ondieki won a world title in the 5,000-meter run for Kenya and set a world record in the 10,000 meters.
Iowa State won NCAA cross country titles in 1989 and 1994 and finished as runners-up in 1990 and 1991. John Nutall (1989) and Jonah Koech (1990) won NCAA individual titles for the Cyclones. In all, Bergan’s student athletes achieved All-America honors 110 times and captured 163 Big Eight Conference individual titles.
Bergen also built his own “Field of Dreams” – the Iowa State cross country course that’s considered one of the finest in the country. Iowa State played host to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in 1995, Bergan’s final season as a coach.
Bergan is a member of the ISU Cardinal Key organization, recognizing outstanding leadership, character, scholarship and service to ISU. A Drake Relays Hall of Fame member, he was also named to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.
Since retiring from coaching, Bergan has been active in the Special Olympics. Bergan also owns Championship Productions, a company that produces instructional books and videos.