Oklahoma Sooners softball made history on Thursday night, defeating Florida State 3-1 in the Women’s College World Series Championship Series.
The win clinched the Sooners’ seventh national title, concluding a dominant 61-1 regular season and extending a NCAA Division I softball-record 53-game winning streak. The triumph also extended a remarkable run of dominance by Oklahoma softball over the last several years. The Sooners have now won the last three Division I national titles, part of a larger run of five championships in seven seasons.
In NCAA history, Oklahoma joins elite company. Just 27 Division I teams have gone-back-to-back-to-back in their respective sport since 2000. Here are some of the other teams that have accomplished the feat over the last two decades and change.
Under the leadership of Geno Auriemma, UConn women’s basketball dominated much of the 2000s and 2010s, with perhaps the Huskies’ most dominant stretch coming in the form of their only four-peat. Playing a central role in the feat was current New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart, who enrolled as a freshman heading into the 2013 season. Stewart would go on to win four consecutive Final Four Most Outstanding Player awards, three Naismith Player of the Year awards, and two Wooden awards. Included in UConn’s run of four championships was two undefeated campaigns, 2014 and 2016.
Other three-peats: UConn (2002-2004)
North Dakota State (2011-2015)
A consistent FCS powerhouse, North Dakota State football is one of just two programs (more on the other later) to appear on this list twice. The Bison were perhaps at the peak of their dominance in the early 2010s. Losing just four games in a five year stretch of championship seasons, North Dakota State’s average margin of victory across their five postseason runs was 20.25 points. The Bison’s excellence started on the sidelines – with eventual FBS head coaches Craig Bohl (Wyoming) and Chris Klieman (Kansas State) leading the way.
Other three-peats: North Dakota State (2017-2019), Appalachian State (2005-2007)
Aside from Oklahoma softball, Stanford men’s gymnastics has the only other active streak of three or more titles. Stanford has thrice beaten Oklahoma on the mat in their four-season, five-year stretch (there was not a 2020 champion due to the COVID-19 pandemic), with the Sooners themselves preceding Stanford’s run with a four-peat of titles from 2015 to 2018. Remarkably, 2012 was the last time Division I men’s gymnastics had a national champion that wasn’t part of a streak of at least two consecutive victories.
Other three-peats: Oklahoma (2015-2018)
The first Division I three-peat to occur entirely within the 21stt century, Minnesota-Duluth’s title run came in the first three NCAA women’s hockey national championship games. After triumphing over St. Lawrence and Brown in 2001and 2002, the Bulldogs’ most dramatic title was their third. Playing on home ice, it would take two overtime periods to separate the Bulldogs and Harvard. Future Finnish international Nora Tallus scored the winner to complete the three-peat. Among the stars for Minnesota-Duluth during their run was Jenny Schmidgall-Potter, a four time All-American winner and the all-time leading scorer in Bulldogs history.
Northwestern fans are no stranger to women’s lacrosse success, with the Wildcats capturing the 2023 national title just a month ago. Northwestern’s greatest stretch of success, however, was a dominant run from 2005-09. Under the leadership of coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, who was hired in 2002, the Wildcats enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the women’s lacrosse world. During the run, the Wildcats, lost just three games in the five year stretch. Hannah Nielsen led the way on the field, capturing two Tewaaraton awards and graduating as Northwestern’s all-time and single-season leader in both assists and points.
One of just six teams in NCAA Division I history to win consecutive men’s soccer titles, Stanford accomplished the feat with a three-peat from 2015-2017. The run of success had a number of common threads linking the seasons. MLS talent led the lines – most notably including a Hermann trophy-winning season from Seattle Sounders staple Jordan Morris in 2015 and a combined 48 goals across the three-year stretch by future Portland Timber Foster Langdorf and current Houston Dynamo forward Corey Baird. The defense was rock solid, with the Cardinal never allowing more than 15 goals per year. Perhaps the biggest constant of all was a flair for the dramatic, with seven of the team’s 15 postseason victories in the span coming in either overtime or on penalties.
NCAA Division I tennis has frequently been dominated by a trio of California schools. USC, Stanford, and UCLA account for 68% of the sport’s national titles in the NCAA era. But in the last decade, Virginia has exploded onto the scene as a powerhouse in its own right. Claiming their first title in 2013, the Cavaliers ripped off three consecutive championships from 2015 to 2017, beating Oklahoma twice and North Carolina once. Virginia will have a chance to repeat the achievement next spring, having taken home both the 2022 and 2023 national titles.
Other three-peats: USC (2009-2012)
No other school has come close to matching Stanford’s prowess in women’s tennis, with the Cardinal boasting a Division I-high 20 titles. The next closest team has just seven. Stanford has had several stretches of dominance across the sport’s 40-plus years of NCAA sanctioning (including a run of six consecutive titles in the late 1980s and early 1990s), but it’s most recent streak came in the form of a three-peat in the early 2000s. The Cardinal haven’t slowed since, capturing five more titles since the end of said run.
Penn State (2007-2010)
The Nittany Lions ruled the collegiate volleyball world for a four-year stretch, breaking several records in the process. The 2008 Penn State season, in particular, was one of the best in NCAA volleyball history. That team didn’t just go 38-0 – they didn’t lose a single individual set all regular season either. They finished the year 114-2 in individual sets. Not to be outdone, the 2009 squad went undefeated en route to the title as well. In 2010, Penn State faced a steeper climb than prior years. Their 109-match win streak was snapped in nonconference play against Stanford. They lost more than three times in conference play for the first time since 2002. But the Lions rallied come tournament time, losing just one set in postseason play en route to a fourth consecutive national title, concluding NCAA Division I volleyball’s only four-peat.
Men’s water polo
Of all these programs, USC water polo boasts the longest streak of titles. The men’s water polo Division I national championship has been passed around the state of California since its advent as an NCAA title sport in 1969. All seven of the teams that can boast men’s water polo titles hail from the Golden State. While USC may not have the most total titles – an honor belonging to defending champion Cal – they do have the most dominant stretch of any one program. Following back-to-back title game losses at the hands of the Golden Bears in 2006 and 2007, the Trojans ripped off six consecutive titles, with championship game wins over four different schools (Stanford, UCLA, Cal, and Pacific).