CHARLES BORNER, JR. – Lincoln High

Lincoln High (Class of 1964)
The face of Lincoln’s Hillcrest Country Club as the resident teaching professional who stresses fundamentals and a respect for the game, Charles Borner, Jr., forged a very successful competitive golf career that included back-to-back Class A state championships in 1963 and 1964, a feat not matched for 49 years. The first junior golfer to win the Lincoln city championship for adults, Borner led Lincoln High to the state team championship in 1964 and went on to letter three years at Nebraska. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championships three times and played in the U.S. Senior Open. In the Western Amateur in Wichita, KS, in 1970, Borner lost in the final to future PGA Champion LannyWadkins and, on the way to the final, defeated Paul Purtzer, Tom Watson and John Mahaffey. His early teaching experience included seven years as coach at North Platte High School.

Bill James – Bellevue

Coach. Bill James made a couple of Central Nebraska stops in his coaching career (Arapahoe and Loup City) before landing in Bellevue where he coached football for nearly four decades, a coach who won in one of the toughest competitive conferences. Head football coach at the original Bellevue High School (which became Bellevue East) from 1957 and 1995, he saw the changing patterns of top-notch football in Nebraska high schools and just kept on succeeding. The 1960s was a good example of his creative coaching, as the Bellevue High football team was almost always at the top. In 1965, Bellevue played Boys Town High for the re-aligned Metro Conference championship, with one pass in the last minute the only difference between both fine teams. His teams won 195 games at Bellevue and his lifetime coaching career number was 210.

Clester Johnson – Bellevue West

inducteeAthlete. Bellevue West (1991)
Being a wide receiver for the undefeated national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1995 followed a dominating high school career for Clester Johnson, who stood out in three sports at Bellevue West. A two-time all-state quarterback whose team had a 20-7 record during his high school years, he established Class A standards in completion percentage in a season (636 in 1989) and in a career (.579). “He ran like the fullback, had the flair of an open-field runner and was able to take some pounding,” his high school coach, John Faiman said. His senior year in wrestling, he had an undefeated season spoiled by a 1-0 loss in the state final. In track and field, he won the all-class gold medals at the state track meet in the 110-meter high hurdles his senior year and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles his junior year.

Bill Jackman – Grant

HOF inducteeAthlete. Because of his outstanding basketball skills, many Nebraska fans may not know that this 1982 graduate of Perkins County High School also played on three Class C football state championship teams from the fair city of Grant. During his high school playing days, Bill Jackman led his teammates to two straight high school basketball championships, having an unbroken record of 52 straight wins when he was a junior and senior. All-state twice, he scored a career total of 1,768. His scoring record in the state basketball tournament of 214 still ranks high. Played at both Duke and the University of Nebraska during his college days.

Peaches James Keaton – Papillion-LaVista

ATHLETE

No one dominated Nebraska high school softball like Peaches James. The pitching ace on four straight state championship teams, the four-time all-state hurler set numerous state records, including 11 no-hitters, five perfect games and an 0.04 ERA in 1999. Her exploits included 31 consecutive wins, 19 consecutive shutouts and a streak of 257 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. After high school, she became the first pitcher to earn All-Big 12 honors four times at Nebraska and she became a second-team All-American as a senior. She pitched professionally for four years and was a National Pro Fastpitch all-star in 2005.

Alden “Aldie” Johnson – Lincoln

Coach. Lincoln High School never had a friendlier face or a better representative of the fabled Red and Black Links than this long-time successful Nebraska high school coach. For forty-one years of a coaching profession which included stints at Waverly, Minden and finally Lincoln High, he set high standards of character and athletic improvement. His specialty was coaching basketball and a career basketball record of 459-311 shows positive results. During his tenure at Minden (1958) and Lincoln High (1959) he developed two state boys basketball champions and two state runners-up. Inducted into the hall of fame of the National High School Coaches Association, his long-time efforts as a volunteer with the American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation indicate a lifetime spent building character in young people as well as improving their athletic ability.

Bob Jensen – Central City

Bob Jensen

Contributor

 Newspaper man Bob Jensen filled a void in Nebraska high school sports publications when he launched Huskerland Prep Report in 1990.  What started as a weekly provider of statistics reports evolved into a multi-media publication providing exposure to hundreds of athletes from border to border and from the smallest schools to the largest.  With limited assistance, his publications, including a preseason glossy magazine, featured stories on athletes, forecasts, all-state teams and coaches and players of the year.  Prized by athletes, parents, coaches and fans, the publication developed into a necessary recruiting tool for college coaches.  Jensen was also an early adapter of online publishing, taking Huskerland Prep Report to the internet with message boards, podcasts and other developoing media.

Shona Jones Smith – Hastings

Athlete. Shona Jones Smith didn’t wait until high school to start winning gold medals. In grades 7 and 8 she was an age group AAU national champion in cross country. In high school cross country she was undefeated all four years, which of course made her a four-time Class A state champion. Competing in track and field, she was a gold medal champion in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter runs. In fact, she scored all of Hastings High’s points in the 1986 state meet winning the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Her 1984 time of 4:59.60 rated on the ‘best of the all-time” chart, as did her 10:40.3 in the 3200. During the winter months she played basketball and was a starter for three years.

By Tony Boone, Hastings Tribune – October 2001

Shona (Jones) Smith lives with her husband, Jon, and 13-year-old son Zach not far from Hastings High School. From her home, she sees many of the local track and cross country athletes training for their respective seasons.

“I see a lot of kids out running,” Smith said. “And I can’t help but think about it.”

That’s because running has been such a big part of her life.

During her career at Hastings High (from 1982-86), Smith was the top distance runner in the state. Her achievements in track and cross country recently earned her a spot in the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame’s class of 2001.

Smith still loves to run, except her event today is a three-to-five mile jog with her family’s dogs twice a day. For the past 14 years, Smith has spent her days working at Armour Foods in Hastings. She spends the rest of her time being a wife and mother and fulfills her love for athletics by watching Zach participate in football and soccer at Hastings Middle School.

Smith said she misses the thrill of running at times. But competitive racing is a thing of the past, at least for now.

Smith said she owes a lot of her success in racing to her father, Dick Jones. The two started running together when she was eight years old. Their workouts became the reason her father quit smoking.

He was her biggest supporter and fan, she said, pushing her to always get better.  “He was always reading something and finding all these different workouts,” she said. “Even after track practice there was always more.” Her father taught her to never be satisfied with her performance and to always try to improve.

“I was always concerned with bettering myself every time out,” Smith said. “I always ran against the clock, not against other people. I wanted to know every split of every lap and my dad would be there to yell them out. Then I would pick up the pace if I needed to.”  Smith said none of her races ever ended at the finish line. “No matter how tired I was, I always kept running until I met my dad,” she said. “I had to see what he thought of my race.”

Smith’s high school cross country and track careers were almost too good to believe. She was the first girl to win four consecutive state cross country championships. Smith also won five individual gold medals in her career at the state track and field meet.  Her times in the 1,600 meter run (4:59.6) and 3,200 meter run (10:40.3) are still atop the all-time Tribland track chart. Smith finds that fact somewhat surprising.

“They’ll break them one of these days,” she said. “When they do, a part of me would be a little bummed, but I would be very happy for that individual. I know they’d have to work very hard to beat them, because I know what kind of commitment I had to make.”

As a senior, Smith won state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200. She also won the 1,600 as a junior.  Her sophomore year, she was the 800 and 3,200 meter champion.

Calvin Jones – Omaha Central

Calvin Jones

Omaha Central

Athlete

 Calvin Jones speed put him at the front of Nebraskas football and track scene.  A prep All-American, Jones averaged 8.4 yards per carry as a senior and established Class A single-game (367 yards), single-season (2,196 yards) and career (3,965 yards) rushing records.  On the track, he won five gold medals at the state track meet, winning the 100 and 200 meter dashes as a senior and running on Centrals winning 400 meter relay.  The Lincoln Journal-Star Prep Athlete of the Year in 1990, he went on to rush for 3,153 yards for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and earned third-team All-American honors before turning pro.  Drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Raiders, Jones earned a Super Bowl championship ring with the Green Bay Packers in 1997.

Willis Jones – Beatrice

Coach. Willis Jones, according to noted sportswriter Gregg McBride was one of the top 10 prep football backs in the state. At Minden High he lettered seven times in three sports earning all-state honors in football and basketball and quarterbacked the Whippets to an undefeated season as a senior. After a service stint, he enrolled at UNL where he was a three-year letterman in track and holder of the Big 7 indoor high hurdle record in 7.5 seconds. Anxious to be a coach, he made it through college in three years and hitch-hiked to Beatrice for his first teaching and coaching job. Happily, they said in Beatrice, he didn’t leave. He was head track coach for the next 37 years. His teams won many conference and district championships as well as back-to-back Class A state meets in 1956 and ‘57. In ‘57 he was named high school coach of the year. Plus track duties, he also assisted at one time or another in football, frosh football, frosh boys and girls basketball, wrestling and cross country. Serving as the first athletic director at Beatrice, he was instrumental in the founding of the Nebraska Athletic Directors Association. The NSAA honored him in 1980 for his outstanding contributions to prep track.