Posted by: Sports
A Big Ten Conference decathlon champion destined to become the first four-time Academic All-American in Nebraska athletic history and the 2012 Big Ten Women's Tennis Athlete of the Year were named 2013 Student-Athletes of the Year Sunday night at the annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet. A crowd of more than 700 people gave Björn Barrefors (pronounced Bih-yurn BAR-eh-FORSH) and Mary Weatherholt standing ovations at Lincoln's downtown Embassy Suites Hotel, which hosted the banquet for the first time in 23 years.
Barrefors is a senior combined events competitor from Stockholm, Sweden, and Weatherholt is a senior record-setting tennis player from Shawnee Mission, Kan. South High School. A Sunday afternoon match at Michigan State prevented Weatherholt, NU's career record-holder for singles winning percentage (.809), from attending Sunday night's banquet. Her mother, Nancy Weatherholt, accepted the award. Both Husker seniors are team captains and excel at the highest academic levels, and both are active contributors to Nebraska's nationally prominent Life Skills program.
Barrefors was a Third-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2010 and a First-Team Academic All-American in each of the last two years. If he earns a fourth Academic All-American honor later this spring, Barrefors will be the first Husker ever to achieve that milestone. Weatherholt has received multiple first-team academic awards from the Big 12 and Big Ten Conferences, plus an ITA Scholar-Athlete Award, the Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Excellence Award, four George Beadle Scholarships and a Central Region Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership/Sportsmanship Award.
Barrefors is a computer science major. He was a leader on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and became part of the track and field team's Leadership Council. "I have many great role models and one is Tom Osborne," Barrefors said. "His views can seem very different from mine at first glance, but I admired how he always wanted the best for others and acted just the way he teaches others to act."
Weatherholt is a business administration major. "Playing tennis at Nebraska is the best decision I could have made," she said. "I've come across people who think that college athletics can hinder your education, but I think it's just the opposite. I can think of nothing that would have enhanced my learning more than playing tennis and studying hard at Nebraska."
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and NU Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst were the featured speakers at the recognition banquet, and Omaha news anchor Serese Cole was the emcee.
Senior associate athletic director Dennis Leblanc presented Herman Awards to the Nebraska women's tennis team and the men's golf program for having the top team grade-point-averages on campus. Both were repeat winners from the previous year. Associate athletic director Keith Zimmer presented Life Skills Awards of Excellence to the Nebraska women's swimming and diving team and to the Husker wrestling program. The swimming and diving team repeated its Life Skills award and wrestling received its first department-wide award for community outreach and service. Over the past year, Nebraska teams and student-athletes participated in more than 300 service projects.
Jo Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at UNL and Nebraska's Faculty Athletics Representative, presented the 2013 Student-Athlete-of-the-Year awards to Barrefors and Weatherholt. Forty-eight Nebraska student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition this past fall term. Eichorst and representatives from each college within UNL's system handed out 255 medallions for academic excellence Sunday night – 72 gold for Highest Honors (3.750 to 4.000 GPA), 56 silver for High Honors (3.500 to 3.749 GPA) and 127 bronze for Honors (3.000 to 3.499 GPA).
Source: UNL Sports Information Department