Ben Plunknett-Beatrice


Beatrice (Class of 1972)

Walter Harrison (Ben) Plucknett, a four-year letterman in football and track at Beatrice High School and the all-class gold medalist in the shot put and discus throw in 1972, developed into the premier discus thrower in the world. At the University of Missouri, “Big Ben” won three Big Eight Championships before moving into the international competition. He qualified for the 1980 Olympic team, but was denied the opportunity to compete by the Olympic boycott. In 1981, Plucknett continued to compete internationally, and his mark of 237’4” was ratified as a North American record.

Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore-Columbus

Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore excelled on every field and court. The first female four-year, three-sport letterman at Columbus High School, she earned all-state honors in volleyball and basketball and qualified for the state track meet all four years. The consensus 1999 Female Athlete of the Year, she was the Nebraska Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior, averaged a double double on the basketball court her junior and senior years and won the long jump gold medal as a sophomore. At Nebraska, she became a two-time volleyball All-American, helping lead the Huskers to the national championship in 2000. She finished her career playing on the Husker women’s basketball team.

JIM PAIGE – Official

Jim Paige spent more than 50 years calling fouls and penalties in football, basketball and track at Nebraska high school athletic events. Described as “quiet, unassuming and hard-working,” Paige displayed a respect for athletes and coaches while maintaining fairmindedness in the implementation of the rules. Selected as the Nebraska Football Official of the Year, Paige worked a handful of state football championships as well as several state basketball tournaments. Primarily a starter in track and cross country, Paige has been a triple jump official at the state track meet for more than 30 years. In addition to being an active official, Paige has mentored dozens of young referees, bringing quality to the ranks of the profession. He has also been an observer and evaluator of officials for the NSAA.

MIKE PURDY – Contributor






No one could account for all the athletes and students who have benefitted from the unselfish contributions Mike Purdy has made to their lives. A coach and administrator in the middle school and high school ranks for more than 40 years, Purdy pioneered and promoted programs and activities that made interscholastic activities in Nebraska a better place. Throughout a career centered on the interests of all students and athletes, Purdy developed scholarship programs, promoted sportsmanship summits and awards, supervised sporting events of every description and fostered an atmosphere of cooperation among organizations supporting athletics. A leader among his peers, Purdy earned Distinguished Service Awards from the Nebraska and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associations.
A past chairman of the Metro Conference, Purdy is the NSIAAA’s Executive Director. Mike retired from Bellevue East in 2004.

Gail Peterson – Crofton


Gail Peterson created a cross country dynasty in the little town of Crofton where his teams won 15 state championships and claimed the runner-up trophy another eight times. His girls teams won nine state titles, including eight straight from 1981-88. The boys teams won six state titles between 1977 and 1991. He coached two two-time state cross country champions: Karla Kube (1983/1985) and Delwyn Hennings (1976-77). His boys teams qualified for the state meet 36 of the 38 years he coached at Crofton. He also coached two years at Cortland. He fulfilled other coaching duties along the way as well.


Al Papik – Lincoln

Contributor. The large majority of Al.’s professional career was on a collegiate level, but he continually worked with, and for, the high schools in the state of Nebraska.  A 1950 Doane College graduate, Al accepted his first coaching position at Laurel, followed by two years at Crete Public Schools.  In 1955, he was selected as Head Football and Track Coach at Doane College, a position he held for 17 years.  His football and track teams were very successful earning him Nebraska College Coach of the Year on three separate occasions.  At Doane, he would host one of the largest high school invitational track and field meets in the state.   After the completion of a fieldhouse at Doane, high school invitational and district qualifying basketball tournaments were common. In 1973 Al left the coaching arena and accepted a position at the University of Nebraska.   As an administrator of college athletics he continued to serve Nebraska high school coaches and athletes,  For 23 consecutive years he served as Head Referee for the Nebraska High School Track and Field Championships held at Burke Stadium.  Other Halls of Fame honors include: Nebraska Football Foundation Hall of Fame, Nebraska Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame, Nebraska Track and Field Hall of Fame (official), Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame (contributor), and Doane College Athletic Hall of Fame (coach).   Al retired January 1, 2002, as the Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Nebraska.


Larry Pritchett – Perkins County

2010Coach. The driving force behind the Grant/Perkins County basketball dynasty, Larry Pritchett coached the Plainsmen to state championships in 1968, 1989 and 1990 and three state runner-up finishes, as well as 22 conference titles. He coached the Plainsmen from 1968-73 and again from 1987-2007. He was an assistant coach on Grant’s state championship team in 1966. His Grant teams won 16 district championships and played in 14 state tournaments. Including coaching jobs at Cozad and Chase County, he compiled a coaching record of 476-147. He also coached the Plainsmen to the state track championship in 1971 and state cross country runner-up finishes in 1975 and 1976. Pritchett’s teams were well prepared, well disciplined and known for their tough defense. They played their best late in the season as the coach molded the team to its talents.

Glenn Presnell – DeWitt

Athlete.  An all-state football player from DeWitt, Glenn went on to UN-L where he was all-conference for two years and part of the team that beat Illinois and Red Grange in 1925.  After college Glenn moved on to pro football passing up a contract with the New York Giants to play for the Ironton, Ohio Tanks because they offered him a full-time teaching and coaching job in the school system.  When the Ironton franchise folded because of the depression, he moved to the Portsmouth Spartans.  In 1931 the Spartans moved to Detroit and became the Detroit Lions.  As a quarterback Glenn made All-Pro in 1931 and 1933.  Glenn led the Lions to the NFL  championship in 1935 beating the New York Giants 26-7.  At 5-10 and 190 pounds, the former Husker was a 60-minute player rushing for 2, 067 yards, passing for 2,317 yards and scoring 217 points in his career.  He kicked a 52-yard field goal in 1932, which stood as an NFL record for 19 years.  He returned to UN-L in 1938 as an assistant coach and became head coach in 1942 for one year.  After duty with the Army he took on the job of  head football coach and athletic director at Eastern Kentucky until his retirement in 1972.  Reaching the age of 98 this year Glenn is the oldest living NFL player and the oldest living ex-Nebraska football coach.  Glenn was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1973.   Settled in Ironton, Ohio.


Gary Power – Gothenburg

2010 InducteeClass of 1960

A “late bloomer,” Gary Power developed into a world-class hurdler after graduating from Omaha University. At age 23, he started to grow, adding an inch of height and nearly 20 pounds while shaving half a second off his 100-meter dash time. While living in California, he also became a devotee of weight training and nutritional discipline. The changes turned him from a Class B state meet silver medalist from Gothenburg into a rival of, and sometimes victor over, Olympic champion Willie Davenport. A fixture in international track meets, once ranked fourth in the world, Power’s hopes for an Olympic medal in 1968 and 1972 were spoiled by injuries prior to the trials.

Adolph “Pat” Panek – Fullerton/St. Paul/Norfolk/Denver

Ranked fifth nationally among high school football coaches in 2004 with a 328-117-29 record over 52 seasons. A Kearney native who excelled in sports in high school and at Kearney State, he coached Fullerton in 1925, St. Paul from 1926 to 1929 and Norfolk from 1929 to 1938 before spending his final 40 years in Denver high schools. His St. Paul teams were Class A boys basketball champions in 1928 and 1929. He has been inducted in the Kearney High, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Colorado High School and National High School Halls of Fame.

Panek set bar at Denver East . Hall of Famer led teams during terms of 10 U.S. presidents
By Clay Latimer, Rocky Mountain News October 15, 2004

Pat Panek coached his first high school football game when Calvin Coolidge was president and his last one during Jimmy Carter’s administration.  In all those years, he rarely lost his magic touch, finishing with 328 wins, including time in Nebraska. ]

Panek enjoyed his greatest success at Denver East, winning 16 city championships and two state titles. But his impact transcended Xs and Os, says one of his former players, Chris Babbs, now headmaster at Colorado Academy.

“He was tremendously dedicated to working with young people and in high school sports,” Babbs said. “It wasn’t just football; he also coached JV basketball, American Legion baseball. He coached year-around.

“He was kind of gruff, but underneath it all was somebody who was always rooting for you, always trying to help you out.  After we graduated, he’d invite us over to his house and we’d go over and watch game film.”

Forced into retirement by Denver Public Schools because of his age, Panek won two Metro League titles at Machebeuf.  His 53-year career is second only to Amos Alonzo Stagg’s mark of 57 years.

He has been selected to the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame (1995), the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (1976), the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame (1991), the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and the University of Nebraska-Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame (1980).