Great Moments, 2003
- Basketball: “The Big Barn”:
“The Old Barn,” which is what the Nebraska Coliseum was affectionately known to high school basketball fans, played host to the state tournament from 1926-76.
In the Twenties, practically any team with a way to get to Lincoln came to play in the state tournament. In the Coliseum’s first year, 339 teams were on hand and were divided into 22 classes (A to V). It was the biggest field ever. Games were played from early in the morning until close to midnight, using other venues in Lincoln for the early rounds as well.
They broke up the Coliseum floors in ’26 so seven games went on at the same time. For several years, four courts were in use –two on the main floor (one went crossways), separated by curtains), one on the stage and a fourth in the basement (eventually became a swimming pool).
By 1961, only the larger main floor was used.
Meanwhile, attendance greatly increased so the Coliseum practically every year had a semifinal or championship game (or both) that resulted in full houses and spectators locked out.
With all 1976 state finals in the then new Bob Devaney Sports Center, the Coliseum was an early round host its final year, with the Class C semifinal in 1976 the last high school game played there (Walthill 56-54 over Howells before a crowd of 3,421 and Brian Blum of Howells scored the last basket).
- Officials: “Fifty Years of Officiating”:
Vern Plambeck of Kearney approaches 50 years in stripes. A referee who has officiated football since 1954, he missed only the 1957 season while serving in the Army Reserve. He also officiated basketball for many years and has been an observer of officials.
- Wrestling: “Kingpins.”:
Four-time state wrestling champions Dirk Desmond of Hebron (136-3), Kasey Kohl of Omaha Skutt (139-1) and Jake Rucker of Louisville (140-5. with 104 pins).