When the men’s gymnastics team beat Oklahoma and Illinois for the NCAA title this April, it was a moment with deeper repercussions than just an individual squad’s accomplishments–with the victory, Stanford secured its 100th NCAA team championship. In the process, it became just the second school (after UCLA) to achieve that status. A women’s water polo’s title in May was the cherry on top, and with some teams still in season, there’s a chance for more before the academic year ends.
But with The Daily taking a brief hiatus until the summer volume begins, here is a small look back at how we got to this point, from the first championship 76 years ago to the 101st title in the present day, with a little assistance from The Daily’s archives.
No. 1: Men’s Track and Field. June 14, 1925
Although Stanford had participated in intercollegiate athletics since the inception of the University, it took nearly 35 years for the school to win its first national title. It occurred in Chicago, when Stanford beat Michigan by over six points. World record-breaking performances by the Wolverines’ DeHart Hubbard were countered by the new collegiate records set by discus thrower Biff Hoffman (who would win the MVP of the Rose Bowl as a member of the football team in 1928) and shot putter Glenn Hartranft.
Since the championship was won in mid-June of that year–and thus, after the printing of the last issue of the spring volume–there does not exist a Daily article about the accomplishment. This was the first of four championships for the men’s track and field team, the most recent one coming in 2000.
No. 7: Men’s Basketball. March 20, 1942
March Madness of the 1940s was a far cry from the 68-team field of the modern day. With just eight teams in contention, schools needed to only knock off three competitors to win the title. The Pacific Coast Conference’s Stanford Indians, under head coach Everett Dean, did just that, downing Rice, Colorado and finally Dartmouth to win the NCAA championship, 53-38. Howie Dallmar, who would go on to coach at Stanford for over two decades, was named the tournament MVP.
The Daily’s Mar. 30 recap stated: “Poor passing in the early stages nearly cost the Farm skyscrapers the ball game, but they put things together in top shape in time to wind up with a flurry of baskets to win going away.”
The men’s basketball program has not won a title since that year.
No. 18: Men’s Tennis. May 22, 1980
On a rainy day in Georgia, Stanford found itself in an early hole. Facing Cal, its nemesis, for the NCAA title, the Cardinal dropped the first set in five of its first six singles matches, but rallied across the board to win the championship, 5-3. It was the sixth collected by the program, which, along with men’s golf, has been Stanford’s most successful to date.
The score was tied 3-3 after the completion of singles play. But a win by Jim Gurfein in the final match of that side had a tangible affect. Ivan Maisel–now a senior writer at ESPN–wrote in his May 23 recap for The Daily: “The momentum had switched, this time for good. After a 30-minute breather, the doubles play began. All three Stanford teams won their first three sets, and after that there were few surprises.”
Peter Rennert, who would go on to win two professional doubles titles with John McEnroe, won at No. 1 singles, and he and Lloyd Bourne won at No. 1 doubles as well to clinch the title.
No. 50: Women’s Volleyball. December 19, 1992
One of the more stunning upsets in Stanford sports history also marked the halfway point in the Cardinal’s road to 100 championships. Even though the 1992 women’s volleyball team was arguably the program’s best to date–which, considering its staggeringly successful run in the 1980s, was saying something–it was a considerable underdog in the NCAA final. The opponent: UCLA, winners of the past two national titles and in the midst of a perfect season.
The Daily’s Jan. 4, 1993 recap put Stanford’s opponents in perspective: “They boasted the nation’s leading team offense in kills, kill average, and hitting percentage, losing few games along the way, let alone matches. Many in the media were calling the Bruins the greatest collegiate women’s volleyball team ever, and even CBS’s commentators were calling UCLA ‘invincible.’”
The Cardinal knew all about it: Stanford had dropped only two matches all year; both were to the Bruins. But Stanford was dominant in the championship match, losing only one set to win its first national title.
No. 82: Women’s Water Polo. May 12, 2002
The Cardinal’s first title in women’s water polo was a story of revenge. In 2001, the first year of the NCAA Championship, Stanford entered the final game undefeated but was defeated by UCLA. The Bruins continued their success against the Cardinal into the 2002 season, as UCLA downed Stanford to win the MPSF Championship in early May. But in the rematch (of a rematch), the Cardinal jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back, leading 3-1 after the first quarter and going on to win 8-4. Goalie Jackie Frank made 12 saves and was named tournament MVP.
The Daily’s recap illustrated the keys to victory: “Stanford’s depth propelled it to victory. Six different players scored in the match…With the Bruins only down by two [in the third quarter], after a UCLA shot hit the crossbar, freshman Kelty Luber scored to increase the Stanford lead to three.”
Stanford would wait nearly a decade for its next women’s water polo championship, won just a few weeks ago, the latest tally for Cardinal athletics.
No. 100: Men’s Gymnastics. April 15, 2011
Given that Stanford’s first team championship was claimed in Chicago, it’s fitting that its 100th title would also be won in the Midwest. This time it was in Columbus, Ohio, where the men’s gymnastics team overcame a slow start on the parallel bars to launch past Oklahoma and Illinois for the NCAA championship. Anchored by its performances on the horizontal bars and in the floor exercises, the Cardinal was able to win a title for the second time in three years, its sixth overall.
In the Daily’s April 18 recap, head coach Thom Glielmi said just about all that needed to be said: “I am ecstatic that men’s gymnastics was the team to reach the 100th title for Stanford…It is an incredible achievement for Stanford, and the fact that it was men’s gymnastics that won it is just icing on the cake.”