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.
When Darrell Lenz met with the captains before a game, he reminded them, “We are here to help you play your game.” Lenz started as a coach, but when he gave up the coach’s clipboard for the administrator’s desk, he held onto the whistle. Starting in 1964, Lenz embarked on a 42-year career of officiating high school and junior high football and basketball in Nebraska. He officiated 26 playoff football games as well as numerous district and regional basketball contests. He mentored new officials he brought on to his crew, stressing that they were part of the team. He developed a deep understanding of the rules, which he studied constantly throughout his many seasons.
Coach–Creighton Preparatory High School, located in Omaha, has had a plethora of great coaches over the years, but none better at the game of football than Coach Leahy. 1955 would be but one good example. That fall the Bluejays compiled a record of eight wins, no losses and one tie, ending up ranked number one in the state in Class A. In a 17 year coaching career at Prep, Coach Don Leahy had 118 wins on the gridiron, just 25 losses and 7 ties. He had four unbeaten teams and annually kept Prep at the top of football ratings. Perhaps part of his keen understanding of the programs here is that he was himself an outstanding high school player during his own secondary education at Creighton Prep. His pass-run oriented teams woneight state championships.
A graduate of Marquette University, he was one of the top collegiate quarterbacks in the country and played in the Blue-Grey Game in 1951.
Leahy’s name was synonymous with Omaha sports for decades. Athletic director at both UNO & Creighton followed his illustrious high school career.
A five-time gold-medal swimmer
at the state meet, the seven-time high school All-American still held the
state record in the 100-yard butterfly in 2004. That mark was the second-fastest in
the nation his senior year. He started on Millard South’s state runner-up
baseball teams of 1983 and 1984. He was honored by the American Legion as
being Omaha’s No. 1 scholar/athlete in 1984. He was inducted into the
Metropolitan Conference’s hall of fame in 2002. At the University of Alabama, he lettered
in swimming in 1985 and baseball in 1986 and 1987.
Lincoln Southeast’s girls basketball teams established unparalleled excellence under the direction of coach John Larsen. The Knights rolled through 29 consecutive winning seasons (1983-2011), qualifying for the state tournament 25 straight times – a state record. They reached the state finals 14 times, winning nine state championships, the most in Class A. He completed his career with a 560-169 record. In the summer, he coached the Daubert/Pinnacle Bank All-Star team for two years, leading it to a first-place finishing in the Washington, D.C. National Tournament championship in 1995 and a runner-up finish in 1996. Larsen also coached football at Southeast and was an assistant coach during eight of the Knights’ state championship runs. After 32 years as an assistant, he ascended to head coach, leading the Knights for four years, including back-to-back 8-1 regular seasons.
Athlete—This 1923 graduate of North Platte High School was timed as the fastest sprinter in the world en route to becoming the world record holder in the 100 and 220 yard dashes. Imagine a runner with world-class speed in a high school football backfield. He led North Platte in 1921 to an unbeaten football season which brought the Platters acclaim as the state champion. Locke gets credit for scoring at least 12 touchdowns in North Platte‘s 176-0 win over Cozad in 1921. However; it was not until the mid-20’s when the “Gip” reached his full potential as a track man, helping the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers as team captain in 1925 and 1926. He competed in the days of hand-held stop watches being timed by some at 9.4 in the 100-yard dash and 20.5 in the 220 during the spring of 1926. He achieved his world records during a successful campaign on the international circuit. Later, he was named one of the outstanding lawyers in Lincoln so his old coach, Henry Schulte, must have been proud of his many successes, both on and off the cinder track. In high school, where his speed was first noticed, he was one of those athletes who rarely if ever lost a race. He set the state record in 1922 in the 220-yard dash.
Dr. Jack Lewis gave countless honors to the athletic program at his alma mater, Omaha Central High School. Every year, he has provided free fall, winter and spring physical examinations for athletes and can’t remember an Omaha Central football game where he wasn’t on the sidelines. He was the school’s “team” doctor for 39 years. Beyond his Central involvement, he was active in activities throughout the city, serving on the Westside school board for 12 years.
Athlete–Truly a man for all seasons, this 1920 graduate of Lincoln High School excelled in a variety of sports and vocations. All-state in football his junior and senior years, he also did well in basketball those years, helping the Links become state champions in an undefeated season on the hardwood in 1919-20. He did well as one of the champion participants during several track & field seasons.
Playing in college for the University of Nebraska, he was one of the Cornhuskers who defeated Notre Dame with their famed “Four Horsemen” in 1923. For several years he played professional football nine years with the Green Bay Packers. One of the great punters of the first half of the twentieth century, he completed his education to become an attorney and successful business executive.
The Omaha World-Herald’s 1968 athlete of the year enjoyed an outstanding career in football, basketball and track at Plattsmouth. The Class B all-state quarterback in 1967 played in the 1968 Shrine Bowl after accounting for 45 touchdowns and 2,979 yards as a senior. In his career, he threw 48 touchdown passes and scored on 40 runs. He averaged 18 points a game in basketball his junior and senior years. He won the Class B 120-yard high hurdles in 1968. He played football at the University of Nebraska during the 1970-71 national championship seasons.
Coach–Near the top rank of high school basketball coaches in Nebraska, his 612 victories certainly illustrate the strength of his advice to young men on the hardwood. An early example came when he was coach of the Stanton High School Class C basketball varsity and had to devise a method of defending some of the best all-state players to date in that class at the state tournament. The boys from Stanton High won the 1964 Class C basketball championship by following his good advice by neutralizing 38-point a game scorer Kurt Lauer and Gibbon in the state tournament final. Twenty years later, Coach Fred Letheby was at the winning helm when Madison High School won the 1984 Class C1 state boys basketball championship.