The Edmond Sun

Sports

July 18, 2013

UCO names 7 to Athletic Hall of Fame

EDMOND — Six of the best athletes in school history and a long-time supporter of the program have been elected for induction into the University of Central Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame.

Making up the 2013 Hall of Fame class in the Athlete Category is baseball All-American Ricky Belk, wrestling national champions Mark Cunningham and Wes White, football All-American Ed Nowlin, basketball standout Courtney (Berry) Pennington and track All-American Chris Weilert, while Sheldon Waeger was selected in the Friends of Athletics category.

The seven new members will be formally inducted during the UCO Hall of Fame Banquet Nov. 2 in the University Center Ballroom.

Belk enjoyed a sensational two-year career for the Bronchos in 2001-02 after spending the first two years of his career at Carl Albert State College.

He had the most dominating season in school history in 2001, leading NCAA Division II and setting a single-season school record for wins in going a perfect 14-0 with a 3.43 earned run average to earn first-team All-America honors along with being named Pitcher of the Year in the Lone Star Conference North Division and the South Central Region. Belk struck out a school-record 108 batters in 107 2/3 innings and walked just 21 batters as the Bronchos went 40-15 in winning the LSC North Division title and qualifying for the national tournament.

The native of Fort Smith, Ark. repeated as LSC North Division Pitcher of the Year as a senior in and was also a first-team All-South Central Region pick after finishing 11-2 with a 3.63 ERA. Belk fanned 70 batters in 72 innings while walking only 20 and opponents hit just .229 against him as he led the Bronchos to a school-record 46 wins (46-10), the LSC North title and a second straight trip to the Division II playoffs.

Belk finished his career with a 25-2 record and 3.50 ERA. He ranks second on UCO’s all-time list for wins and third for strikeouts (178).

Cunningham put together a stellar career on the mat and is one of 10 four-time All-Americans in UCO’s storied wrestling program.

The Tulsa Union High School product redshirted his first year and then started at 150 pounds in 1993-94, finishing 26-18 and winning the Midwest Regional crown before claiming All-America honors with a sixth-place finish to help the Bronchos win the national team title. He repeated as Midwest Regional champion the following season at 158 and lost a one-point decision in the national finals to finish runner-up with a 31-11 record as UCO again won the team crown.

Cunningham stayed at 158 pounds in 1995-96 and was the Midwest Regional runner-up before capping a 29-9 season with the national championship, capturing the title with an 8-6 finals victory over the No. 1 seed. Nagging injuries slowed Cunningham as a senior, but he still managed a 27-11 record after moving up to 167 pounds while finishing second in the Midwest Regional and seventh at the national meet.

Cunningham ended his career with a 113-49 record that included 57 bonus-point victories and was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010. He ranks 14th on UCO’s all-time wins list and fourth in major decisions (28).

Nowlin came to Central Oklahoma after two years at Murray State College and was a two-year defensive mainstay in helping the Bronchos go 20-1 and win back-to-back Oklahoma Collegiate Conference titles in 1961-62.

The Oklahoma City native played both ways as a junior and was a first-team All-OCC selection at defensive end in addition to leading the team in scoring with six touchdowns.  He rushed for 243 yards on 57 carries while also seeing time on the offensive line as UCO went 9-1 in winning the league crown.

Nowlin was a defensive catalyst again as a senior in 1962 when the Bronchos went 11-0 and captured their first-ever NAIA national championship, repeating as a first-team All-OCC pick while also earning first-team All-America honors. The defense recorded five shutouts and allowed only 57 points that season, with Nowlin taking defensive player of the game honors in a 20-0 semifinal blanking of College of the Emporia before recording a key sack in Central Oklahoma’s 28-13 finals victory over Lenoir Rhyne.

Pennington led Class 5A in scoring as a senior at Putnam City High School and played as a freshman at Southern Nazarene, where she helped lead the Storm to the NAIA national championship before coming to UCO and starting the next three years.

She was an honorable mention All-Lone Star Conference selection as a sophomore in 1996-97 after averaging 13.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals a game and then netted 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals a contest the next season to earn All-LSC North Division honors.

Pennington was a repeat All-LSC North Division selection as a senior after finishing fourth in the conference with a 15.5 scoring average while adding 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals a game. She also ranked second in the LSC in 3-point percentage (41.3) and fourth in free-throw percentage (82.6).

Pennington played in every game (78) during her three years at UCO and finished with 1,127 points, which ranks sixth on the school’s career scoring list and is the most of any player who didn’t play four years with the Bronchos. She’s also fourth in career 3-pointers made (148) and fifth in career 3-pointers attempted (376).

Weilert was an All-American in the javelin as a sophomore at Riverside (Calif.) Community College before coming to UCO and putting together a stellar two-year career for the Bronchos.

The Andover, Kan. native won the Lone Star Conference championship in the javelin in 1994, advancing to the NCAA Division II national meet in that event and the decathlon, and then redshirted the following year.

Weilert enjoyed a sensational senior season in 1996, winning a second LSC javelin title by more than 20 feet with a stadium record effort of 200 feet, six inches at Texas A&M-Commerce in earning Outstanding Field Athlete honors for the meet. He went on to place fourth in the NCAA Division II national meet to earn All-America honors and became the only UCO track athlete to ever qualify for the Olympic Trails that summer.

Weilert, who also qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2000, broke the javelin school record seven times while at UCO and his 242-foot, one-inch mark still stands as the longest throw in Oklahoma college history, regardless of division.

White overcame serious medical problems to win back-to-back NCAA Division II national championships at UCO after returning to the mat following a lengthy layoff. A prep star at Tulsa Hale High School, he was a Division I All-American as a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma State in 1988 and qualified for the national tournament again the next season before being sidelined.

White didn’t return to school until coming to UCO in 1992 and he moved into the lineup at 158 pounds at the semester break, scoring falls in his first two matches to help the Bronchos beat a pair of ranked Division II rivals. He cruised to the Midwest Regional title and then capped a four-match march to the national championship with an 11-3 finals victory to end a 21-6 season and help UCO capture the team title.

White returned for his senior season in 1994 and again captured both the Midwest Regional and NCAA Division II championships, winning another major decision in the national finals as the Bronchos took the team title again. He finished with a 24-7 record that included 13 bonus-point wins.

White was undefeated against Division II opponents during his two-year UCO career and was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. He had a 45-13 record that included 24 bonus-point wins with the Bronchos and was 91-28-3 for his college career.

Waeger came to UCO in the 1970s and was a football letterman in 1976 and ‘77 before a boating accident ended his playing career. He stayed on with the team as an equipment manager to earn his degree and has been a faithful supporter of the Bronchos ever since.

A successful businessman in the energy industry for decades, Waeger has served as president of the UCO Athletic Association (now C Club) as well as been a Presidential Partner. He has traveled across the country to support many Broncho athletic teams over the past 35 years and has been one of UCO’s greatest supporters, both physically and financially.

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