Benkelman (Class of 1975)
Danis (Richards) Willet made the quarter-mile race her specialty, winning the Class C gold medal all four years and claiming all-class honors her junior and senior seasons. She finished her high school track career with 15 medals in the 440-, 880- and 220-yard dashes as well as the mile relay. At Kearney State College, she continued to set records, ranking in the top 25 of all collegiate runners and becoming the first Nebraska woman to break the 55-second barrier in the 400. Her career in track continued into her 30s where she won national titles in the 100, 200 and 400 and won the National Outstanding Female Athlete Award in her age group in 1991.
Blair (Class of 1987)
Janet (Kruse) Sellon shredded opposing volleyball defenses. With nearly half of her attacks resulting in kills, she proved to be a dynamic volleyball player, starting four years at Blair and earning all-state honors her junior and senior seasons. She also started for three years in basketball, earning all-state honors, and she was a state champion high jumper. But volleyball paved the way in college where she became a three-year starter and a four-time letterwinner for the Nebraska Cornhusker volleyball team. She was Nebraska’s first three-time All-American and an NCAA Woman of the Year while leading the Huskers to the NCAA Tournament semifinals twice.
Omaha Central (Class of 1984)
Keith Jones’ legacy is stamped into his nickname: “End Zone”. A speedy and powerful running back at Omaha Central, Jones broke records that belonged to the legendary Gale Sayers. Jones rushed for 1,710 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior, including a 235-yard effort against state champion Omaha Creighton Prep. His speed resulted in gold medals at the state track meet in the 4×100 relay and the 200-meter dash. Jones went on to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers where he became the third-leading rusher of all time, piling up nearly 2,500 yards and a stunning total of 32 touchdowns. A sixth-round draft pick by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, he played two seasons in the NFL.
Lincoln Northeast (Class of 1999)
In the classroom and on the playing field, Trevor Johnson excelled. In the top one percent academically, the unanimous prep athlete of the year excelled in three sports. After missing most of his junior football season with a broken leg, the tight end/defensive end caught 42 passes for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year. On defense, he was credited with 54 tackles, including 13 for a loss, seven sacks and eight pass break-ups while leading the 10-2 Rockets to the state semifinal. All-state in football and basketball and an all-class gold medalist in the discus, he helped the Rockets to three straight basketball championships. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he was a four-year football letterman. He played four years in the NFL.
Cambridge (Class of 2003)
Christina (Houghtelling) Hudson enjoyed the high school career of dreams. All-class all-state in volleyball and basketball, three all-class gold medals in track, superior ratings in music and class valedictorian, the 2003 Prep Athlete of the Year led Cambridge High School to the state volleyball and basketball tournaments while earning letters in all three sports for four years. Her legacy of honors continued at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she played an integral role in the Huskers’ four Big 12 championships and two Final Four appearances. Named the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year as a junior, she was a two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Kearney High (Class of 1967)
Tom Heller was the epitome of the natural athlete. Name the sport, Heller, the 1967 Athlete of the Year, excelled. Bob Devaney once said he could have played all 22 positions at college football’s highest level. Heller was the first Kearney High football player to rush for 1,000 yards, earning all-state honors while leading the Bearcats to a 10-1 record. He also earned all-state honors in basketball and qualified for the state track meet in the hurdles. At Nebraska, he was a part-time starter as a defensive back and kick returner before leaving after his sophomore year to join the Navy. After his military service, he went on to coach in Colorado where he was a positive influence on many young athletes
Lincoln Southeast (Class of 2002)
Before winning multiple Gold Glove Awards and being a World Series hero, Alex Gordon was Nebraska’s Prep Athlete of the Year as a senior at Lincoln Southeast. An all-state and record-setting receiver and defensive back on the football field, he rose to stardom on the baseball diamond where he was all-state for three years, hitting .483 with 25 home runs and 112 RBIs. Furthering his career at the University of Nebraska, he led the Cornhuskers to their first College World Series game victory and was the consensus Player of the Year in 2005. The second pick in the Major League Draft, he was named the Minor League Player of the Year in 2006 and started in left field for the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series championship team.
Bellevue (Class of 1973)
A three-sport athlete at Bellevue High School, Rik Bonness shone brightest on the football field where he played center and linebacker, earning all-state honors his senior season and earning a scholarship to play at Nebraska. For the Cornhuskers, Bonness achieved the honor of being the seventh two-time All-American playing center. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the third round of the NFL Draft. Converted back to linebacker, he played 59 games in the NFL for the Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a member of the Raiders’ Super Bowl championship team of 1977.
North Platte (Class of 1944)
“Bullet” Jack McCartney blended speed, drive and a change of pace that made him one of the most dangerous football players of his time. Tagged as Nebraska’s best high school athlete in his sophomore year, McCartney made a name for himself in track, winning all-class gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes as well as the broad jump during his junior season. An injury prevented him from defending his titles his senior year. All-state in football and a three-year basketball letterman, McCartney served in the Navy before playing football at Northwestern University. After suffering a fractured pelvis, he transferred to the University of Nebraska to complete his college education.
Omaha South (Class of 1958)
Richard Brown played a crucial role in bringing a championship atmosphere to Omaha South. A four-time state wrestling finalist and three-time champion, he led the Packers to three straight state championships in wrestling. In football, the standout halfback and cornerback helped the Packers win the mythical state championship in 1957. He furthered his wrestling career at Iowa State, finishing third in the Big Eight Tournament in 1960. After college, Brown taught and coached at Wesley House for 26 years and served as the youth district director for USA Wrestling Nebraska.