Bill Bergan became Iowa State’s first head cross country coach in 1971 and was named head track & field coach in 1976. In his 23 years at Iowa State, Bergan brought unprecedented success to the cross country and track & field programs. When he gained control of the ISU cross country program, ISU had finished in the Big Eight meet’s lower division for 11 straight seasons. The Cyclones finished last or next to last in 21-straight Big Eight Conference outdoor meets before his arrival. After he assumed command, the Cyclones won 25 conference titles.
Bergan’s quest to build a winning running tradition at Iowa State produced astounding results. The cross country team won its first Big Eight title in 43 years in 1974. They won five straight from 1987-91. The Cyclone cross country team won 10 conference crowns in just 14 years. Iowa State captured NCAA Cross Country crowns in 1989 and 1994. In all, after their first NCAA appearance under Bergan in 1974, the Cyclones earned 15 NCAA berths, including top-8 finishes in eight of his last 11 years at the helm.
The Cyclones under Bergan won 10 of 14 conference outdoor track. ISU athletes achieved All-America honors 104 times and captured 156 Big Eight individual titles under Bergan’s direction.
Bergan was named to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984 and was selected as the National Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1983. He earned the same honor for track and field in 1986. The Drake Relay’s hall-of-famer was named the Big Eight cross country coach of the year five times in eight years.
Following his retirement from coaching in 1994, Bergan served as the track & field coordinator where he was instrumental in the development of the ISU Cross Country Course. The course is a one-of-a-kind cross country treasure and stands testament to the hard work and dreams of Bergan.