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.

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).

Amy Paulsen-Spiering – Norfolk-Ralston-Oakland Craig

Oakland-Craig C2011 Inducteelass of 1990
Amy Paulsen-Spiering is the standard by which Nebraska weight throwers are measured. Paulsen-Spiering won seven gold medals at the state track and field championships. As a freshman, she won the Class A discus and placed second in the shot put at Norfolk.. The next three years, competing for Norfolk, Ralston and Oakland-Craig, she won the all-class gold medal in both events. She set a state record in the shot put with a throw of 48 feet, 1 inch, and threw the discus 155-0 feet. Her efforts in both events put her in the top five nationally, and she competed in the Keebler Invitational and Arcadia Invitational national meets. In college, she competed at Texas A&M, Missouri and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, earning Division II All-American honors in the discus in 1996. She set school records in the discus as well as the indoor shot put and discus at UNO and the indoor shot put at Texas A&M.

George Pfeifer – Boys Town

Coach. After serving in the US Navy and completing college studies, George Pfeifer came “home” to Boys Town, his alma mater, early in the 1950’s and enjoyed an outstanding head coaching career in basketball and track, and helped with football. His Cowboy basketball teams won the Class A state championship in 1965 and 1966 and his track team was the Class A 1954 champ. He was also the No. 2 man on the Boys Town staff when the school won 1956 and 1957 basketball titles. His track programs turned out some great runners, among them Hall of Fame inductees Charles Jones and Barney Hill. He served as Boys Town’s junior high principal and the school’s athletic director for many years. Graduated in 1944 from Boys Town and earned degrees from Fort Hays State and University of Nebraska-Omaha.


John Parrella – Grand Island Central Catholic

2011 InducteeClass of 1988
John Parrella played in three Super Bowls–the Buffalo Bills in 1994, the San Diego Chargers in 1995 and the Oakland Raiders in 2003–during a 13-year professional career at defensive tackle. His football days started at Grand Island Central Catholic High School where he excelled in football and was named a high-school All-American. He earned all-state honors twice and led the 1986 playoff team in tackles and receiving yards. A walk-on for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Parrella lettered for three years, earning All-Big Eight honors in 1991 and 1992 and second-team All-American honors as a senior. He was a second-round draft pick in 1993 by the Buffalo Bills.

Louise Pound – Lincoln UNL Latin School

Contributor.  Louise Pound was a pioneer among women athletes in the state of Nebraska, enjoying much success during her high school age years although never participating in structured high school athletics. Tennis and golf were her top sports, but she gained acclaim in figure skating, skiing, cycling, basketball, swimming, riding and bowling. She was captain of the University of Nebraska basketball team. She was Lincoln’s best woman golfer for more than 20 years and in 1916 was the first state women’s golf champion. In tennis, many of her championships came against all comers, including men. At one time, she was the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the country. During her 50 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska, she was a staunch advocate of increased opportunities in athletics for females. Deceased.