Rik Bonness-Bellevue

Athlete

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.

Richard Brown-Omaha South

Athlete

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.

Larry Bornschlegl-Hastings

Official
An outstanding athlete at Geneva High School and the University of Nebraska, Larry Bornschlegl never got far away from the playing field, enjoying a long career as a coach, school administrator and referee. Considered one of the premier basketball referees in the 1970s and ‘80s, Bornschlegl completed a basketball officiating career that covered 20 years and included 10 state tournaments and eight state championship games. After putting away the whistle, he dedicated his efforts to improve the quality of officiating, offering advice while helping develop the Nebraska School Activities Association’s program of observing and evaluating officials. He has served as an observer for more than 20 years.

Kim (Behrends) Buckendahl- Chappell

Chappell (Class of 1997)
Kim (Behrends) Buckendahl rewrote Nebraska high school volleyball’s record books. From her 42 kills in the state championship match to her 1,643 career kills, Behrends dominated small-town volleyball like no other. She led Chappell to back-to-back undefeated state championships and a 55-match winning streak. All-class all-state for two years and Class D-1 all-state all four years, she earned Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 1996 and was Volleyball Magazine’s runner-up for National Player of the Year. Also a basketball standout, she finished her career with 1,384 points. The Lincoln Journal-Star’s 1997 Female Athlete of the Year, Behrends went on to letter four years on the Nebraska Cornhuskers volleyball team and was one of the tri-captains on the 34-0 national championship team of 2000.

JIM BARKER – Coach

Coach

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Barker arrived at Scottsbluff in 1988 and turned the Bearcats into a cross country power – a project that has resulted in 11 boys state championships, more than any other coach in Nebraska history. In addition, the Scottsbluff boys accumulated five runner-up finishes. In his 28 years at the helm, the Scottsbluff boys qualified for state 26 times, finishing in the top four 22 times. Dedicated to the success and improvements of all on his team, not just the best, he also coached a number of highly successful girls cross country teams, including two state runner-up squads. He coached girls and boys track and field for nine years, including the 2012 boys team that won the Class B championship and the 2013 and 2015 boys squads that placed second. He retired as the school’s track coach in 2016, but he continues to coach cross country.

TERRANCE BADGETT – Omaha South

 

Omaha South (Class of 1991)

 

 

 

 

Terrance Badgett, a two-time all-state player, led the Packers to the Class A state championship in 1990 and averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per game the following year while earning honors as the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year. A Nebraska Cornhusker recruit, he made the Big Eight All-Freshman team and, as a senior, was named to the Big Eight All-Bench team. As a Husker he played in 127 games and scored more than 200 points each season, finishing with a career total of 953. He played professionally for five seasons in the U.S. and overseas.

Don Benning – Omaha North & UNO

Coach.  Setting a high standard for athletes of all ages, this educator and coach returned to the Omaha University after earning a graduate degree in 1963, he served in several capacities, including head wrestling coach. His college wrestling team brought the first ever collegiate national championship in wrestling to the state of Nebraska in 1970, after being runner-up in both 1968 and 1969. He was named NAIA wrestling coach of the year as well as being selected by the Nebraska press as state college coach of the year. Dr. Benning was also a member of the 1969 United States Olympic Wresting Committee. An outstanding high school athlete, he shared his expertise with high school coaches and encouraged schools to strengthen their athletic programs.

 

Fred Bessler – Chase County

Coach.  Fred Bessler had a career football coaching record of 248-81-1 and got his start in Brule. From there, Bessler went to Madrid where he was the head coach of their 9-0 eight-man team that was ranked No. 1. He then moved on to Cozad where he was an assistant coach for the state champion team in 1969. From 1975 to 2002, Bessler coached at Imperial. As the head football coach for 31 years, his teams won 206 games and two Class C-1 runner-up trophies. He was a head coach in the West Nebraska All-Star Football Game twice and an assistant once. In 1983 he was an assistant coach in the Shrine Bowl, and in 1995 he was a head coach. He was also the head track coach at Imperial, where his teams won 26 consecutive conference championships. He also coached basketball.

 

 

From Imperial Republican, 2005

Coach Fred Bessler, in his final season as Longhorn head football coach, meets with his team after their August, 2001, win over Cozad, giving Bessler his 200th win in Imperial. (Republican file photo) By Jan Schultz, The Imperial Republican     Fred Bessler will join an elite group of Nebraskans later this year when he is inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.

He will join 12 of Nebraska’s greatest all-time athletes, four other coaches, a longtime official and a contributor who make up the 2005 Hall of Fame Class.

They will be honored during an induction ceremony Sept. 25 at the Lied Center in Lincoln.

According to Buck Mahoney of the Foundation, Bessler is the first to gain the honor from Imperial in the 11 years of the Foundation’s existence. The 2005 class brings the total number to 239 honorees.

“It’s humbling,” Bessler said of his selection to the Hall of Fame.

“The fact that you are associated with longtime successful coaches across the state of Nebraska, it’s very humbling. It’s much appreciated,” he said.

Bessler retired from teaching and coaching in 2002, after 27 years in the school system and 37 years overall as a coach.

However, he remains a regular substitute teacher at CCHS and doesn’t miss very many Longhorn athletic events.

He coached football at Brule, Madrid, Cozad and Chase County, compiling a 248-81-1 career record, with 206 wins in Imperial and a pair of Class C-1 state runner-up finishes.

At the time of his retirement from football, his career coaching record was among the top five in Nebraska.

A highlight at Madrid in 1967 was his football team’s 9-0 record and a No. 1 state ranking. That was before Nebraska had football state playoffs.

Bessler was an assistant Shrine Bowl football coach in 1983, then was head coach for the Shrine all-star game in 1995.

His success in coaching track will also be highlighted when he is introduced at the induction ceremony later this year.

Most notably, he coached the Longhorn boys’ team to 26 consecutive SPVA conference championships while at CCHS.

He also spent a combined 16 years coaching boys’ basketball at all four high schools in Brule, Madrid, Cozad and Imperial. He spent six years as an assistant Longhorn coach from 1975-81.

A coach for 27 years at Chase County High School, Bessler has many, many good memories in all the sports he coached.

However, he pinpointed a few from his years as a football and track coach here.

One of his fondest memories in football was the 1989 team, he said. The team had a 2-5 record late in the season, but went all the way to the state football semi-finals that year, winning four straight games and finishing with a 6-6 record.

“That was probably most rewarding,” Bessler reminisced, “because they went so far and overachieved.”

Several state track performances are among the good memories for Bessler, as well.

Bessler coached the state championship 3200 meter team of Gary Snyder, Morgan Kunnemann, Denny Draper and Chris Bubak, who won an unexpected gold medal in 1983.

He also coached the state track second place 3200 meter relay team in 1997, comprised of Chris Skeen, Sam McNair, Steve Barger and Mitchell Vires, who still hold the school record in that event.

The other was Andy Bauman’s second-place state pole vault effort in 1983 at 14’6″.

While he wasn’t the individual jumpers’ event coach, Bessler said Ed Kaiser’s 6′ 9″ high jump in 2002 at the state track meet, another gold medal performance, is high on his list of good memories, too.

Those three still remain on the CCHS track record board.

But, at the top of the list for track are the 26 consecutive conference championships. That is hard to match anywhere in the state. “That was due to the high participation of athletes that we had. It was always satisfying to have 40 to 50 out for track,” he said.

That was true with football, as well.

During the Longhorns’ two football games in the state finals in 1997 and 1998, the CCHS team had an average of 70 players on the roster both years.  Bessler made certain they all suited up for the games and all received state medals those years, even though the NSAA only provided 38 medals to each team.

As Bessler nears the end of his third year in retirement, he said he does miss a lot of what comes with teaching and coaching. “I really miss the day-to-day association with the kids, and obviously, the games” and meets, he said.

He said he was “blessed” with great assistant coaches in all of his years in coaching, and those associations, too, go beyond the court and field.  He said he’d be remiss if he didn’t acknowledge the support from his family, as well, especially his wife, Sandy, and the community support all of those years at CCHS.

Ralph Beechner – Lincoln High

Coach. One of a handful of great high school football coaches for Lincoln High School over the years, his success began as a student Red and Black-clad Link himself, lettering in both basketball and football days. During the early 1930s he was both a basketball and football coach for Jackson High School in Lincoln, then competing at the Class A level, with his hardwood athletes reaching championship levels there. Starting in 1936, he became a head coach in a number of sports at Lincoln High School and for over a decade he was a winner in each.

In basketball, the Links earned a hard-fought Class A State Championship Tournament in 1938. His 1942 and 1944 track teams were also state champions. In the late 1940s, his golf teams were unsurpassed. Most remembered are his great football teams, winning six state championships under his guiding hand. Ralph Beechner and Lincoln High had a seven-year stretch where the football team won 65 games, lost seven and tied four.

The athletic stadium at Lincoln High School today appropriately bears his name.

Joe Blahak – Columbus Scotus Central

2011 Inductee Class of 1969
Athlete
 
A defensive stalwart on the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Team of the Century, Blahak made his mark on the high school scene competing in football, basketball and track. A Class B all-state football player in 1968, he led Scotus in rushing, scoring and interceptions as the Shamrocks claimed a state title. He led the basketball team in scoring his senior year, and turned to track in the spring where he won five state meet gold medals. His junior year, he won the 100-yard dash, the 180-yard low hurdles and the long jump. As a senior, he won the low hurdles and the long jump and qualified for the state meet in all five field events as well as the 100 and the 880-yard relay. At Nebraska, he started at cornerback for three years, earning All-Big Eight honors twice and second-team All-America honors as a senior. He went on to play five years in the NFL.