Track and field (along with baseball and basketball) was one of the first three intercollegiate sports sponsored by George Pepperdine College when the school first opened its doors at its South-Central Los Angeles location in 1937.
Under the direction of head coach J. Eddie Weens, Pepperdine track and field teams quickly made their mark at local, regional and national competitions.
For example, the quartet of Froggie Lovvard, Jack Russell, Wally Simpson and Stanley Summers won the two-mile relays at both the Texas and Drake Relays in the spring of 1939. Their time of 7:43.40 was a meet record at the Drake Relays that stood for 15 years before it was finally broken, and it was the fastest time in the nation at that point.
At the 1947 Drake Relays, the mile-relay team of Sam Travis, Bob Valerio, George Eidson and Terry Bell ran the fastest time in the nation that year (3:17.9) to win the gold medal.
Weems and another former Pepperdine coach, Bert Brewer, are enshrined in the University's Athletics Hall of Fame along with track and field standouts Bell, Jack Bighead, Roy Burleson, Bill Johnson, Wixie Robinson, Jerome Walters and Don Whitney.
In the mid-1960s, Ron Pettigrew and Harry Skandera were both All-American cross country runners for Pepperdine, and they are also a part of the University's Athletics Hall of Fame.
Although women's intercollegiate athletics teams were not sponsored prior to the 1970s, female athletes from various schools still competed at local meets. Pepperdine standouts such as Terrezene Brown, Vilma Charlton and Marilyn White each competed at the Olympic Games, and are an important part of the University's rich athletics heritage.
Pepperdine men from that era who competed in track at the Olympics include Walters, David Kirkland and Pablo McNeil.
The programs were all disbanded when the University moved its campus to Malibu in 1972. However, men's and women's cross country teams were reinstituted in the mid-1970s. The men's West Coast Conference Championships date back to 1975, while the women's meet began in 1985.
Pepperdine's women finished second at the WCC Championships in 1988, 1993 and 1999. The men's team earned a best-ever third-place finish at the 1997 WCC Championships.
Individually, Pepperdine women's runners have won the WCC race three times. In 1988, Kari Baerg won the 2.98-mile event at the Crystal Springs course, located in Belmont, Calif., in a time of 18:31. The following year, Kim McElhinney duplicated that accomplishment, posting a time of 18:49 in a five-kilometer run at Crystal Springs. In 2000, Rebecca Freebury won the five-kilometer event in a time of 18:18.
Jason Kite posted the best-ever individual finish for the men in 1993 when he placed fifth, posting a time of 26:09 in an eight-kilometer run at the Crystal Springs course.
Under the direction of current coach Robert Radnoti, the women put two cross country runners in the top five for the first time in school history at the 2010 WCC Championships, as Chelsea Wishard took second and Lauren Lodge was fifth.
Track made its debut on the Malibu campus when a women's team was established for the first time in 2006, and the men's team was reinstated in 2008 (although currently the men's program is limited to just a few runners). Track does not have a conference affiliation and competes independently.
In 2012, Pepperdine produced its first track Olympian in the Malibu era when Sarah Attar, running the 800 meters, became one of the first female athletes ever to compete for Saudi Arabia.