Athlete. 1964 graduate. Kurt Lauer enjoyed the best basketball season in Nebraska history, leading the Gibbon Buffaloes to their second straight state runner-up finish in the 1963-64 season. A 6-foot-8 post player and an outstanding shooter, he set the state record with 956 points (38.2 points per game). He scored 59 points in a single game, netted more than 50 points in five games that year and had six more games of 40 or more points. He established a career state tournament scoring record with 205 points (34.2 points per game). He finished his high school career with 2,247 points. He played collegiately for Nebraska and Hastings College.
Coach. During the 1940s and 1950s, the subject of high school football in Nebraska could not be discussed without a tip of the hat to the great Grand Island High School Coach Jerry Lee. A career of 25 years included a record of 101-23-5. The number of undefeated teams he coached at Grand Island was outstanding: 1947, 1948, 1953 and 1958. State championships with these fine teams included a span once of 28 consecutive games without a loss. He was selected as the North All-Star head coach in the first Shrine Bowl Game of 1959. In addition to his success on the gridiron, he was also a knowledgeable track coach. Wins alone do not tell the whole story. A former player of his stated, “His coaching went beyond the playing field. Because of his expertise, I was able to accomplish more than I had ever dreamed.”
Dave Lebsack earned the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald’s Athlete of the Year awards in 1962 after earning nine letters at Lincoln Northeast in football, basketball and baseball. An all-state quarterback, he led the Rockets to a 9-0 record and the state ratings championship in 1961. He started from the first game his sophomore year and had a reputation for being a ball-handling wizard. He also earned all-state honors in basketball where the Rockets won the Class A state title in 1962. Lincoln Northeast was 19-2 that year, losing two games Lebsack missed with a strained knee. He averaged 22.4 points per game in that state tournament. In baseball, Lebsack was known as an outstanding catcher.
Journal Star 4/6/2012
There were no clever nicknames for Dave Lebsack.
Not “Smoothy” or “Slick” or even “Lethal Lebsack.”
And there were certainly plenty of opportunities. Lebsack quarterbacked Lincoln Northeast to the 1961 Class A state football ratings championship (there were no playoffs until 1975), then helped the Rockets to the 1962 Class A state basketball title. He was all-state in both sports and earned Journal Star athlete of the year honors in 1962.
Lebsack, one of Lincoln’s most decorated athletes, died Tuesday at the age of 67. Memorial services will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church.
“From the late ‘50s to the mid-‘60s, every kid in northeast Lincoln wanted to be Dave Lebsack,” said Jerry Motz, a longtime friend and teammate at Northeast. “I was one of his close friends and I wanted to be Dave Lebsack.”
Lebsack was a charter member of the Lincoln Northeast Athletic Hall of Fame, inducted in 1991, and he was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Lebsack guided Northeast to a 9-0 record in football his senior year and was a three-year starter at quarterback. He missed the first four games of the basketball season (the Rockets went 2-2 without him) after an injury during football required surgery. The Rockets won 17 straight games after he came back to earn the title, with Lebsack averaging 22.4 points a game in the state tournament. He was also a standout catcher and earned all-city honors in baseball.
“I can see a gifted athlete who made sports look ever so easy, especially handling the football in a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t fashion,” said Conde Sargent, who covered Lebsack’s career for the Journal Star and named him athlete of the year.
“His value to Northeast athletics was never more noticeable than his return from a football injury to the basketball court. With Dave, the Rockets stepped up a level and won the state championship. He lifted that team.”
Lebsack accepted a scholarship to play both football and basketball at Nebraska, but transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan during his sophomore year and graduated from there in 1969.
“He was a class act. He never left northeast Lincoln,” Motz said. “He’s an icon out here. He’s one of the people who laid the groundwork for all the rich tradition we had.
“He treated his opponents with respect. There was no trash talk. And in return, everyone respected him, too.”
Lebsack is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sharon, daughter Lindy and her husband Doug Bonnett, son Scott and his wife Christie, granddaughter Haley, and sister Donna Spence, all of Lincoln, and sister Judy and her husband Harlan Hoy of Waverly.
“He was very humble and shy. The only thing he cared about when he stepped on the field of endeavor was to win,” Motz said. “I’ve seen a lot of high school quarterbacks in this town, and there’s no one who was better.
“He wasn’t the fastest and he couldn’t jump the highest. All he did was win.”
Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 402-473-7314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athlete. A 1981 graduate of Albion High School in Boone County, she was the first athlete in Nebraska high school girls’ track and field to win a gold medal in the same event each year of her high school career, 1978-1979-1989- 1981. She bettered her own initial mark in the high jump from 5’8” her freshman year to a record 5’10” her senior year. She was also a double gold medal winner on occasion in the long jump. She held the all class state record in the girls high jump up to 1987. The Class B marks of Sue (Lind) Nelson at the state track & field meet and through the season are still high on the all time list.
Coach. Ted Larson’s teams were always on the run. As a head coach at Lincoln Southeast, Larson’s teams won 24 state championships from 1983 to 2001 – 13 in girls cross country, 10 in boys cross country and one in boys track. The girls cross country team put together a streak of nine straight state championships from 1989 to 1997. In 1992, the Knights boys and girls set scoring records at the state cross country meet, one of five years his teams won both state titles. The national Coach of the Year in 1995, he also coached two years at Lincoln East and two years at Waverly before moving to Southeast. After 2001, he became the first cross country coach at Lincoln Southwest, adding another conference championship (his 28th) and an individual state champion (his sixth) before retiring in 2008.
Contributor. The contribution sportswriters make to the understanding and enjoyment of high school athletics is immeasurable. One of the best was Don Lee, who spent 44 years covering sports as a reliable scribe for the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. He was present for 35 consecutive state basketball tournaments and 35 state track meets. Though his talents extended to the occasional coverage of college sports as well as golf, boxing, horse racing, figure skating and hockey, his close ties with Nebraska high school sports remained paramount. He was very familiar with the vanishing numbers of high schools and the consolidation movement and he made sure that the small town teams as well as the metropolitan giants received proper and frequent coverage.
Athlete. Millard North (1997)
Kelly Lindsey enjoyed a golden high school career in cross country and soccer. A Parade All-American, she led the Mustangs to the state soccer championship during her freshman and senior senior seasons, scoring 99 goals in her career. In cross country, she won the Class A gold medal three times – her bid to be a four-time state champion ended when with a rib injury halfway through the state meet race. She also lettered in basketball all four years for the Mustangs. A member of the under-20 national soccer team, she was a four-year starter at Notre Dame and went on to play professional soccer for three years. She has coached professional and college soccer teams.
Athlete. One of the best girl basketball players in high school history, this 1979 graduate of Platteview High School in Springfield, Sarpy County, was a favorite with fans from the time she first stepped on to any athletic arena for her varsity team. She was named all-state in both volleyball and basketball, and she won the Class B high jump in 1977. Despite all this versatility, she was a basketball player, a real star in this sport. Her statistics: 1,492 career points, a single season record of 533, and a point average of more than 22 a game in her last two years of high school. Basketball was her sport, for sure. She played four years at the University of Nebraska.
An all-around athlete, he was a four-year starter in football and basketball. On the basketball court, he led Clearwater in scoring all four years, finishing with 1,673 points, including 55 against Chambers during his senior season. He was also credited with 32 rebounds in a single game and averaged 21.9 rebounds per game during his career. In track, he went to state every year and as a senior, helped the Cardinals to a share of the Class D team title by winning the shot and discus and taking second in the high jump. On the baseball diamond, he pitched at Pershing College and played in the minor leagues. He has enjoyed a successful coaching career in American Legion baseball.
Before graduating from Ainsworth High School in 1939, Ralph had an outstanding career in all three sports offered at that time. His honors included being selected twice to the All State Teams in basketball and once football. His track events were the pole vault and high jump. In order to gain more practice time Ralph built a pole vault pit in his back yard and even taught his sister how to do the vault. Going on to Creighton U. he quickly established himself as a real “Blue Chipper”. Referred to by some sports writers as the “Blonde Bombshell” he led Creighton’s high point chart all four years he played. Ralph was selected to the All American first team in 1942 and 1943. After college Uncle Sam picked up his option and he was assigned to the famed 10th Mountain Infantry Division. He got one more crack at basketball before going overseas by playing for the Army in an AAU tourney in Colorado Springs. The hastily put together team almost won it all playing against top rated AAU teams of the time. Ralph missed the final game when he was called back to his outfit for maneuvers. He saw duty overseas in the battle for Sicily where he was wounded, received the purple heart and went to Fitzsimmons hospital in Denver for recovery. With his recovery complete he signed on with the Denver Nuggets in 1946. Creighton University Hall of Fame in 2000. Died October 1998.