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.
Official. Bill Lewis began officiating basketball in 1961 while he was in junior high school and rose to become the Nebraska School Activities Association’s Supervisor of Officials. An intramural referee at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Chadron State, he continued to officiate after becoming a teacher. He worked the state basketball tournament from 1975 to 1979 and 1983 to 1987, and worked state championship football games in 1977-1979. He was named NSAA assistant director and the supervisor of officials in 1988, conducting rules meetings, assigning officials for tournaments and playoffs, conducting camps and clinics and observing and evaluating officials. He retired in 2004.
Coach–Some years ago Blair High School was named by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the outstanding high schools in America. The high quality of their faculty, including such skilled athletic coaches as this gentleman is part of the reason for such a high appellation. Coach Lehl was at the gridiron helm for 233 football victories, making him high on the list of winning coaches. In 1973 his Blair High Bears won the number one ranking in Class B and in 1988 his boys won the Class B state playoff championship. The students at Blair High School have been fortunate to have a faculty to look up to, and Coach Mike Lehl stands tall on or off the field of play.
Inducted with officiating partner, Dan Newmyer.
They officiated together for 40 years, so they will be inducted into the Hall of Fame together. They began officiating basketball while students at Doane College in the late 1940s and they retired in the late 1980s. They began officiating football games with Hall of Fame referee Dick Thompson in 1956. They officiated at the state basketball tournament from 1964 to 1968 and refereed the 1984 Shrine Bowl football game. They also worked many state football playoffs and small-college games.
Athlete. His blazing speed while at Mitchell High School and the University of Nebraska made the highly-respected Red Littler into a true legend. For three consecutive years until his graduation in 1937, he led the Tigers of Mitchell High to Class B State Track & Field Championships. At the close of this 1935-36-37 period, the accomplishments at the state meet were compared of all classes and Littler’s times helped make Mitchell High School the grand champion in 1937. His 9.6 in the l00-yard dash and 21.3 in the 220-year dash are still high on the all-time lists. A versatile football player, his team lost only one game in the three years when Gene was in the backfield. His teammates at NU described him as a mighty tough runner. In his senior year with the Cornhuskers behind at a Big Six Meet, he anchored the last leg of the mile relay in the winning event to wrap up the 1942 Big Six Conference title in the clocked time of 46.5 seconds. He ended his career as a successful track coach at both Beatrice and at Tenafly, New Jersey.