Track and Field, that most ancient of sporting disciplines, has been practiced since the first Olympiad in ancient Greece. There are a few differences between the modern iteration and its ancient cousin, but the core competitions have all remained remarkably similar.
The great state of Nebraska might be known more for farming than for feats of physical prowess, but it has produced its fair share of great track and field athletes. The University of Nebraska has been an especially productive source of great track and field stars.
Nebraska’s long and often underrepresented history of sporting greatness deserves more recognition. Here are five of the best track and field stars ever to emerge from the Cornhusker State.
Carol Frost is an icon in the world of track and field throwing events. She was the first ever Nebraskan woman to make the Olympic team, and competed in the discus throw at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico. She had to overcome huge sexism in Nebraskan high school culture to begin competing.
Frost never stopped competing. She broke a world record for a “masters”-age javelin throw when she was 70 years old, and American records at the same level in shot put and discus.
Nebraska University’s record-setting runner, Locke held world records in the 100m and 220m disciplines during the 1920s.
Writing about Locke’s 100m record of 9.9 seconds, reporter Frederick Ware exclaimed that:
“The blond boy from North Platte sped to the greatest glory ever won by a single Cornhusker athlete or by a runner of short distances anywhere.”
Locke’s record in the 220m discipline lasted almost a decade until it was broken by the legendary Jesse Owens.
Roger “The Rocket” Sayers
They didn’t call him “the Rocket” for nothing! Although injury scuppered his chances of Olympic glory, Sayers was truly world class, and competed for the US national track team against the Soviet Union and Poland during the 1960s.
He beat future Olympic gold medallist “Bullet” Bob Hayes twice during his time at college in 1962. Many colleges in Nebraska offer scholarships to Nebraskans who show promise in sport. Head over to asmsholarships.com to compare some of the available offers.
Gilbert Dodds dominated the indoor mile running scene in the 1940s. Known as the “Flying Parson” because of his seminary training (and eventual work as a reverend), Dodds was known for setting a grueling pace.
In 1948, he set the world indoor mile record of 4 minutes and 58 seconds in an event held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
After retiring from running, Dodds preached the gospel and coached college athletes.
Lloyd Hahn’s first running race was against a swarm of insects. According to his parents, Hahn’s passion for speed was ignited when he tripped over a beehive and raced the angry bugs to the safety of a nearby pond.
Hahn set many records in the 800m and 1-mile disciplines, and raced at two Olympic games. He went on to coach Gilbert Dodds!