Esser-Karman was the first woman in the history of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, (AIAW), to collect four national titles in the same event. The Cyclone hurdler won an unprecedented four titles in the 400-meter hurdles. Esser-Karman was a nine time All-American, earning the honor in the hurdles four times, the mile relay and the 100-meter hurdles twice and the 4x400 relay once. In 1979, Esser set AIAW, track and school records of 56.63 only .02 seconds off the U.S. record in the 400-meter hurdles. Esser led Iowa State to a third-place finish at the national outdoor meet in 1977, winning the 400-meter hurdles in a then-U.S. record. 57.07 seconds.