Norfolk Catholic (Class of 1988)
Good at everything he did, Kevin Ramaekers locked up the Athlete of the Year award in 1988 by earning all-state honors in football, winning gold at the state wrestling meet and winning the all-class gold medal in the shot put at the state track meet. A Bally All-American in 1987, he helped Norfolk Catholic reach the state championship game his senior year, concluding a career where he was a two-time all-class, all-state player. On the wrestling mat, he finished third at state as a sophomore and a junior before winning his senior season. Posting the fourth-best shot-put mark in state history, he won back-to-back all-class gold medals. A three-year mainstay on the defensive line at Nebraska, Ramaekers earned All-Big Eight honors as a senior and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Athlete. Omaha Tech Class of 1969. High school athlete of the year. 1972 Heisman Trophy Winner. Before he became one of the most exciting players to ever wear the Cornhusker Scarlet and Cream, his exploits on Omaha’s high school football fields was nothing short of legendary. He ran the ball, caught it, returned it. He was also outstanding on defense. Other high school exploits included a state championship in the long jump and all-star laurels in basketball where he was a 20-point a game player.
Rodgers blossomed as a national star in 1971 to lead Nebraska to its second consecutive national championship. It was Rodgers’ sensational 72-yard punt return for the first touchdown that ignited the Huskers’ thrilling 35-31 victory over Oklahoma in the “Game of the Century” in 1971. His 77-yard punt return touchdown against Alabama helped trigger the 38-6 Orange Bowl victory and sewed up Nebraska’s second national title.
He owned 43 school records, seven conference records and four NCAA records during his three-year career, in which Nebraska posted a 32-2-2 record. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on December 14, 2000, in New York. Played in both Canandian and National Football League professional leagues.
Rodgers returned to Omaha involved in community and public relations, including the Husker Heisman weekend and his company, Jetwear.
Coach. In 30 years as volleyball coach at Centennial, Phyllis (Rice) Honnor posted a 459-151 record and led her team to the state tournament 12 times. Centennial won state championships in 1984, 1985 and 1987 and finished second in 1998. Her teams won 14 subdistrict and 12 district championships. Centennial’s volleyball team was ranked in the top six from 1980 to 1992 and from 1997 to 1999. Rice-Honnor was also the Centennial track coach from 1971 to 1987, coaching at least one state medalist in 10 of those years. She also served as head basketball coach for one season. Rice-Honnor was named the Lincoln Journal Star Female Coach of the Year for 1987-1988. She was also nominated for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1983, 1986 and 1988.
Athlete–One of the most highly regarded college football centers of all time, this 1978 graduate of Omaha South High School began his gridiron career as a youngster in the Pee Wee group also in that locale. He was a 6-3, 220-pound lineman who gained high school all-state honors and led South High to a 7-2-1 record in his senior year. Outstanding high school wrestler. As a University of Nebraska Cornhusker, he reached All-America status as a powerful center, finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, most unusual for a lineman in 1982. After college, he played seven years of professional football in the NFL. An Outland, Trophy winner in college, this gentle giant has had his Nebraska football number retired by unanimous acclaim.
Few had the drive Rimington had in the weight room and the classroom. At UNL Rimington went from a “slow, practically skinny” lineman to a fast, hole-opening machine cutting his 40-yard dash from 5.35 to 5.05 from his freshman to his senior year, increasing his bench press from 340 pound to 435 and left Nebraska able to squat 650 pounds.
Equally as impressive was his skill in the classroom with a 3.25 GPA in economics as two-time, first-team Academic All-America and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
Athlete. Randy Reeves, the 1966 Omaha World-Herald Athlete of the Year, excelled on and off the field. Reeves was the valedictorian of his class of more than 800 students and a National Merit Scholar. On the football field, he was a three-year starter for the Benson football team and received All-Metro, All-State and All-American honors and was named the Coca-Cola Back of the Year. He was a two-year starter for the Benson basketball team. In track, Reeves won the gold medal in the pole vault at the state track meet in 1965 when he cleared 14 feet. He was the first Nebraska pole vaulter to reach that height. Reeves went on to play football for the University of Nebraska where he lettered from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 Reeves was an Academic All-Big Eight and Academic All-American defensive back.
Athlete–A 1980 graduate of Grand Island High School, this versatile athlete surprised many at the state track meets by being an excellent high jumper, posting a top personal best of 6’7“ and winning a gold medal as a junior. A running power on the gridiron both in high school and college, he developed into a great fullback at the University of Nebraska (he enjoyed a rare 84-yard touchdown run against Colorado his senior year). During a decade of professional football, he earned two Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers as a runner-blocker-pass catcher for Joe Montana, et al, reaching all-pro status. An NFL player from 1986-94, Rathman helped the 49ers capture two World Championships (Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV) and seven NFC West titles. He totaled 4,392 yards from scrimmage and scored 34 touchdowns while playing in 113 games with San Francisco. He played his final season in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994.
Larry Ribble’s boys basketball teams enjoyed more than their share of success, winning seven state championships and qualifying for 10 other state tournaments. His teams’ state championship success started in Class C at Pawnee City before his Millard South squads won five Class A crowns. His 1970 and 1971 Pawnee City teams won 35 straight games and two state championshps. His 1989 Millard South team was the first undefeated Class A team in 30 years. Coaching from 1965 to 2004, Ribble guided his teams to a 509-280 record. He also coached at Holmesville, Dorchester, Falls City and Hastings. He coached track for 22 years at Millard South, the last 12 as head coach.
Athlete–Omaha Central High School won the state wrestling team championship during each of the four years this 1947 graduate was in school. He became the first high school wrestler to win state individual championships four straight years–as a 155-pound freshman, next year in the 165-pound class and finishing up his final two years in the heavyweight bracket. Every sport needs its lofty standards (four-time champion is the ultimate) and the surge to prominence of wrestling in high school can be traced in part back to this fine champion. Also an outstanding football player.
Dr. Herb Reese was a leading pioneer in Nebraska heart surgery. In 1986, Reese performed the first heart transplant in Lincoln at what was then Bryan Memorial Hospital. He also played a key role in forming the team that would become the Nebraska Heart Institute. He was a member of the Bryan medical staff from 1966 until he retired in 1992 and was the hospital’s chief of staff from 1978-82.
John Reta was the center of swimming in Nebraska for nearly 20 years. Instituting the program at Lincoln Southeast, Reta coached the Knights to eight consecutive boys state swimming championships from 1959 to 1966. His swimmers won 11 individual state titles and set 18 state records. The Knights put together a winning streak of 59 consecutive meets then, after a one-point loss, won another 23 straight. He was the 1962 Lincoln Journal Star Coach of the Year and the 1965 Omaha World-Herald Coach of the Year. Reta left Lincoln Southeast to become head swimming and diving coach at the University of Nebraska, a position he held from 1966 to 1978. Reta got his start coaching the Palmer (Colo.) High School swim team. Next he coached basketball, track and six-man football teams at Gurley for one year.
Athlete. High school basketball players talk about someone having a “hot hand,” meaning the knack of hitting the basket again and again and again. Kent Reckewey, a 1971 graduate of Lincoln East High School, personified the phenomenon. A two-time all-state basketball player, it was the 1971 state tournament won by Lincoln East which brought out the record scoring of this sharpshooter. He set records for Class A in points in one game, field goals in one game, free throws in one game and points in one tournament. The free throw (23) and career (118) performances still existed in the record book in 2010. University of Nebraska letterman in 1973-74-75, winning a Big Eight post graduate scholarship in 1975 which he applied toward pursuit of a medical career. His impact on the high school sports scene was emphasized in a Lincoln Journal Star survey which sought to identify the most popular Lincoln high school basketball player over a 25-year period. The winner: Kent Reckewey.