2019 Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Class inducted
A group of seven distinguished Husker student-athletes and coaches made up the 2019 University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame class on Friday.
In honor of the University of Nebraska’s 150th Anniversary, the 2019 class included two special athletes and coaches who were inducted as pioneers - Ed Weir (track and field and football letterwinner 1923-26, coach and administrator 1929-68) and Carol Frost (women’s track and field and cross country coach 1976-80). Weir and Frost were both unanimously approved for induction by the Hall of Fame Committee, based on their athletic achievements and their personal contributions to Husker athletics. Other inductees included: Rhonda Blanford-Green (women’s track and field, 1982-85); Greichaly Cepero (volleyball, 1999-2002, women’s basketball, 2001-03); Wes Suter (men’s gymnastics, 1983-86); and Grant Wistrom (football, 1994-97). For the second consecutive year, the class also included a coach as legendary men’s gymnastics head coach Francis Allen (1970-2009) was honored.
Weir was a member of the inaugural College Football Hall of Fame class in 1951, and he was the first two-time All-American in the history of Nebraska football, earning first-team honors in both 1924 and 1925. He returned to Nebraska in 1929 as an assistant football and track and field coach and continued to serve Husker athletics for nearly 40 years, including 17 years as head track and field coach. Ed Weir Stadium, the home venue for Nebraska’s outdoor track and field programs, is named in his honor. Appropriately, the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Plaza serves as a grand entryway to Ed Weir Stadium. Weir is being inducted posthumously as a pioneer, coach and student-athlete.
Frost did not have the opportunity to compete as a Husker student-athlete, as she attended the university before women’s athletics had earned varsity status. Despite the limited opportunities available to her, Frost was a world-class athlete who was the first Husker female Olympian, in addition to being the first female from the state of Nebraska to compete in the Olympics. She returned to Nebraska as head coach of the Husker women’s cross country and track and field teams from 1976 to 1980. In 2004, Frost was presented with an honorary letter for her athletic achievements as a Husker, and that year she was also the recipient of the Nebraska Trailblazer Award for outstanding contributions to women’s athletics. Her ties to Husker athletics run deep, as Carol’s husband, Larry, was a three-year letterwinner for the Husker football team from 1967 to 1969, and the couple’s youngest son, Scott, is Nebraska’s head football coach. Carol also has football coaching experience serving as an assistant football coach for 30 years.
The rest of the 2019 Hall of Fame Class was known for winning championships at Nebraska. Each of the four student-athletes selected for induction won at least one team national championship at Nebraska, including three in football, three in women’s track and field and one in volleyball and men’s gymnastics. Allen, who becomes the third Husker coach to be selected for the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame, led his Nebraska men’s gymnastics team to eight NCAA team championships. Allen also coached Huskers to 42 individual NCAA titles, including three titles from Suter, while Blanford was a four-time individual national champion, including relays. Although they did not have the opportunity to compete for an individual championship in their sport, Cepero was the 2001 volleyball national player of the year and Wistrom won the 1997 Lombardi Award. Both Cepero and Wistrom were also CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, and Wistrom was a two-time academic All-American and an NCAA Top 10 Award winner.
The 2019 class is scheduled to be formally inducted into the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 30, before being recognized the next day during the Husker football game against South Alabama. In conjunction with the enshrinement ceremony, a granite plaque with the names of the seven members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be added to the University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Plaza.
The Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame Plaza is located on a renovated walkway, stretching from the columns above the Ed Weir Outdoor Track and Field Stadium and continuing to the historic NU Coliseum. The University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame plaza is accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no charge and is lit for night viewing. The plaza serves as a grand entryway to Ed Weir Stadium and recognizes each annual Hall of Fame class, along with columns dedicated to the history and successes of each of Nebraska’s athletic programs.
· Rhonda Blanford-Green, Women’s Track & Field (1982-85)
· Greichaly Cepero, Volleyball (1999-2002); Women’s Basketball (2001-03)
· Wes Suter, Men’s Gymnastics (1983-86)
· Grant Wistrom, Football (1994-97)
· Francis Allen, Head Men’s Gymnastics Coach (1970-2009)
· Carol Frost, Nebraska 150 Pioneer (Cross Country and Track and Field Coach 1976-80)
· Ed Weir, Nebraska 150 Pioneer (Track and Field Letterwinner 1923-26, Football Letterwinner 1923-25, Track and Field Coach, Football Coach and Administrator 1929-68)
Rhonda Blanford-Green, Women’s Track & Field (1982-85), Denver, Colo.
Rhonda Blanford’s Nebraska career was synonymous with winning. She was a member of three national championship teams, and the Huskers swept both the indoor and outdoor Big Eight Conference titles every year of her career. Nebraska also finished in the top four at the national indoor meet all four years of Blanford’s career and finished in the top 10 at the national outdoor meet in three of her four seasons. Individually, Blanford totaled four individual national championships and was an 18-time Big Eight champion, including relays. She is one of only three athletes in program history to win the same outdoor event all four years of her career and is one of four Huskers to win the same indoor event all four years. An eight-time All-American, Blanford also owns Nebraska’s school records in the 50-meter hurdles, the 60-yard hurdles and the 55-meter hurdles. As a freshman, she was a member of Nebraska’s national champion 4x200-yard relay team, helping the Huskers to the first of three consecutive team indoor national championship. In the outdoor season, Blanford was a member of Nebraska’s national champion 4x100-meter relay team. Blanford again played a key role in the Huskers’ indoor NCAA team championships in 1983 and 1984 and as a senior in 1985, Blanford was the individual national champion in the indoor 55-meter hurdles and outdoor 100-meter hurdles.
Greichaly Cepero, Volleyball (1999-2002) & Women’s Basketball (2001-03), Dorado, Puerto Rico
Greichaly Cepero was a two-sport star at Nebraska, where she was one of the top volleyball players in program history and was also a starter for the Husker women’s basketball team. On the volleyball court, Cepero was a three-time All-American. A two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, Cepero was the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year in 2000. That season, Cepero guided Nebraska to a 34-0 record and was the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Tournament when the Huskers won the national championship. Cepero was also named the 2000-01 Big 12 Conference Female Athlete of the Year, and she was the conference freshman of the year in 1999. Cepero helped Nebraska to a 123-10 record during her career, which included three conference titles and two trips to the NCAA Semifinals. On the basketball court, Cepero played in 55 games and started 24 contests in her three seasons. She scored 276 career points and had 255 rebounds and 67 assists. In the classroom, Cepero was a three-time academic All-Big 12 selection in volleyball and a two-time honoree in basketball, in addition to being named a third-team CoSIDA Volleyball Academic All-American in 2001. She competed for the U.S. National Team following her Husker career and earned her degree from the University of Nebraska in management in 2006.
Wes Suter, Men’s Gymnastics (1983-86), Reston, Va.
Wes Suter was an individual and team national champion, the nation’s top gymnast and an Olympian during his decorated career. As a freshman, Suter helped Nebraska to the 1983 NCAA championship team, the program’s fifth consecutive national title. The Huskers finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships in each of Suter’s four seasons, including first or second three times. Nebraska also won three Big Eight championships during Suter’s career. As a junior, Suter had one of the most impressive seasons in NCAA history. He was the Big Eight all-around champion in addition to winning three of the six individual event titles. Suter then won three individual national titles at the NCAA Championships, where he was the NCAA all-around champion and also finished first on the floor exercise and on the high bar. As a senior, Suter won the Nissen-Emery Award as the nation’s top gymnast. He won a pair of Big Eight individual titles and was an All-American in the all-around and on parallel bars, finishing his career as a six-time Big Eight individual champion and five-time All-American. Suter competed for the United States at the 1988 Olympics. He earned his degree in marketing from the University of Nebraska in 1987.
Grant Wistrom, Football (1994-97), Webb City, Mo.
Grant Wistrom is one of the most decorated players in the history Nebraska football. He was a member of three national championship teams in his four seasons. After playing as a true freshman on NU’s 1994 national title team, Wistrom was a third-team All-American as a sophomore on Nebraska’s 1995 national championship team. As a senior, Wistrom was a first-team All-American, Lombardi Award winner, Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a team captain on the Huskers’ 1997 national title squad. In his four-year career, Nebraska compiled a 49-2 record with three perfect seasons. Wistrom was a three-time All-American, a two-time first-team All-American and a two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. One of five Lombardi Award winners in program history, Wistrom was a two-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American and an NCAA Top 10 Award winner. He is one of only two Husker football players to be a two-time first-team All-American on the field and in the classroom. Wistrom was also the 1997-98 Big 12 Conference Male Athlete of the Year. He totaled 206 career tackles with 58.5 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks. Wistrom’s No. 98 jersey was retired by Nebraska in 1997, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Following his Husker career, Wistrom was the No. 6 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. He went on to play nine seasons in the NFL and was a member of the St. Louis Rams team that won Super Bowl XXXIV.
Allen Third Coach to be Inducted
Francis Allen, Men’s Gymnastics Head Coach (1970-2009), Lincoln, Neb.
Francis Allen was a legendary figure at Nebraska and in the world of men’s gymnastics. Allen was involved with the Husker gymnastics program for nearly 50 consecutive years, lettering as a gymnast for three years (1962-64), serving as an assistant coach for five seasons (1965-69) and then leading the program as head coach for 40 seasons (1970-2009). The longest tenured head coach in the history of Nebraska Athletics, Allen’s achievements were staggering. He led the Huskers to eight NCAA team championships, including five consecutive titles from 1979 to 1983. In addition to the eight national titles, Nebraska finished as the NCAA runner-up seven times while posting a total of 20 top-five national finishes. His gymnasts also won 42 individual national titles, including nine NCAA all-around crowns, and claimed a total of 171 All-America awards. At the conference level, Nebraska won 14 team championships and produced 92 individual champions. Allen also coached four Nissen-Emery award winners as the nation’s top gymnast and tutored 11 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Allen himself was an eight-time national coach of the year. Internationally, Allen coached nine Olympians at Nebraska and served as the head coach of Team USA for the 1980 and 1992 Olympics, although the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics. Allen began his affiliation with Nebraska as a Husker gymnast. He was the Big Eight champion on parallel bars as a senior in 1964 and was Nebraska’s first All-American on that event the same year, finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships. Allen earned his degree in physical education from the University of Nebraska in 1965.
Carol Frost, Female Pioneer (1976-80), Cedar Rapids, Neb.
Carol Frost was a world-class athlete and one of the first female varsity coaches at Nebraska. She was also the first woman from Nebraska and the first Husker female student-athlete to compete in the Olympics, throwing the discus at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Frost achieved her Olympic dream despite competing during an era when women did not have equal access to training facilities. Frost trained for the Olympics while pursuing a double major in math and physical education at Nebraska, but she had no track and field team with which to train and the university’s facilities were off-limits to women. Although she attended Nebraska before women’s athletics had earned varsity status, Frost’s accomplishments were so great that she was presented with an honorary letter in 2004. Frost won a gold medal in the discus at the 1967 Pan American Games – the same year she graduated from Nebraska – and she was a four-time U.S. champion in the event from 1966 to 1970. Frost, who also earned a master’s degree from Nebraska, returned to Lincoln as the Huskers’ second women’s cross country and track and field head coach in 1976 and coached both teams for four seasons. She led Nebraska to the first indoor and outdoor conference titles in Nebraska women’s track and field history and posted three top-10 national finishes. Frost recruited Merlene Ottey, a 14-time national champion at Nebraska who set female track and field records by competing in seven Olympics and winning nine Olympic medals. Frost’s efforts helped set the stage for Nebraska to win indoor national championships in 1982, 1983 and 1984. After leaving Nebraska, Frost remained active in athletics both as a competitor and coach. She assisted her husband, Larry, in coaching Wood River High School, where she coached her sons Steve and Scott and coached in the high school ranks for 30 years. Larry and Scott both played football at Nebraska, with Scott returning to Lincoln in December of 2017 as the Huskers’ head football coach. Carol also continued to compete in track and field, setting one American Masters division age-group record in the shot put, three age-group records in the discus and one world age-group record in the javelin. In recognition of her outstanding contribution to women’s athletics, Frost was presented with the 2004 Nebraska Trailblazer Award.
Ed Weir, Male Pioneer (1923-26, 1929-68), Superior, Neb.
Ed Weir was a two-sport Husker student-athlete who returned to coach two sports and serve as an assistant athletic director during his long and storied association with Nebraska Athletics. Weir was the first two-time All-American in the history of Nebraska football, earning first-team accolades in both 1924 and 1925. One of the greatest players of his era, Weir was a member of the inaugural College Football Hall of Fame class in 1951, the first Husker inductee. Weir, whose No. 35 jersey has been retired at Nebraska, was also a standout on the track. Weir was a four-time conference champion in track, winning the 50-yard low and high hurdles at the 1925 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships, the 50-yard high hurdles at the 1926 indoor championships and the 120-yard high hurdles at the 1926 outdoor championship. Weir was a member of five conference title teams in track and field, and he was on one conference championship football team. Following his Husker career, Weir spent three years in the NFL, winning a NFL championship in his first season in 1926 and serving as a player and coach in his final two seasons, compiling a 17-12-5 record. Weir returned to his home state to serve as an assistant football coach for 10 seasons (1929-37; 1943) and as an assistant track and field coach for 10 seasons (1929-38). He was named Nebraska’s head track and field coach in 1939 and served in that role for 16 seasons, leading the Huskers to 10 conference championships from 1939 to 1954. Weir served as an assistant athletic director for 14 years (1955-68) following his coaching career. Nebraska’s outdoor track and field facility, Ed Weir Stadium, was dedicated at the 1974 Big Eight Outdoor Championships.