Reggie Smith – West Point Central Catholic

2013 InducteeAthlete. Class of 1966

With eight carries, six touchdowns, 284 yards in a victory over a previously unbeaten team. Reggie Smith proved unstoppable at times. He led West Point Central Catholic to an undefeated season with 1,566 yards on 160 carries. A leader with a great attitude, he played with intensity and was a natural runner, earning all-state and All-American honors. A linebacker with a knack for finding the football, Smith was “the best athlete I have ever coached,” Hall of Fame coach Lyle Nannen said. In basketball he averaged 18.3 points per game his senior year, and he threw the shot put more than 50 feet. He was recruited to play football at Nebraska, but transferred to Wayne State College after two years, earning all-conference honors as a running back for the Wildcats.



April , 2013.

Recently the Class of 2013 inductees to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame were announced. Altogether, 10 athletes, four coaches, two contributors and one official will be inducted in September.

One of those inductees with local ties is former Sandhills football head coach Reggie Smith. Smith is being inducted as a player for his exceptional play as a high school athlete in football, basketball and track.

“It’s almost beyond words. If you think of the percentages of kids who played Nebraska sports and then being selected as one of many to get inducted into the hall of fame, the percentage it pretty high,” said Smith.

Smith said when he received his induction letter he found his old scrap-book and reminisced about his playing days and says he still gets chills about the positive comments people left about him.

Philip C. Sprague – Lincoln High


In his 18 years as Lincoln High gymnastics coach (1951-69), the Links won seven state championships and were runners-up nine times. Twenty-three of his gymnasts won 41 state championships. The 1946 Beatrice graduate competed in his sport in high school and was the state pommel horse champion as a senior.  His support of his sport didn’t end with his coaching career.  While administrator at Lincoln East, he continued to contribute to the sport as meet director and in other capacities for the state gym meet.

Frank Smagacz – Omaha Central

Coach. From early coaching positions at Arlington and Tekamah this talented leader of boys then moved on to arguably the toughest conference in Nebraska where for the next 27 years he was football and track coach at Omaha Central High School. A good example of strong competition occurred the fall of 1960 when Omaha Central High battled cross-town rival Creighton Prep on the football gridiron to a zero-zero tie. Both schools were then treated as co-champions. Between 1958 and 1966 Frank Smagacz coached five Class A Boys state track & field champions,  indicating a superb ability to spot great athletes and guide them to their best efforts. In 1961, he was named high school coach of the year in Nebraska.


Rudy Stoehr – Lincoln


Perhaps Nebraska’s most recognized basketball referee, Rudy Stoehr was often at the center of many state championships. A football referee as well, Stoehr officiated Nebraska high school basketball from 1963-89, working more than 1,000 games and more than 20 state tournaments. He also officiated in the Big Eight Conference for six years. An outstanding basketball and baseball player at Lincoln Northeast and Nebraska Wesleyan (he set a single-season scoring record with 746 points, including 62 in one game).  Stoehr played minor league baseball before an arm injury forced him to return to Nebraska to coach and officiate.

Ron Simmons – Sumner

HOF inducteeAthlete. Ron could be best described as “Mr. All” at Sumner High School. Before graduating in 1964, his honors in basketball were All Conference (’61 ,’62,’63,’64), All Region (’61,’62,63,’64), All District (‘6 l,’62″6 3,’64), Class D All State (’62,’63,’64), All Class All State (’64) and All American (’64). He is second on the list of all time scorers in Nebraska with a total of 2,406 points, all made prior to the three-point rule. In football, he made All Conference (’61,’62,’63), All Region (’61,’62,’63), All State (’63) and was picked to the North Shrine Bowl squad in 1964. Track was not to be left out. He was a three time state qualifier in the pole vault winning the Class D championship one year and a two-time state qualifier in the hurdles. At UNL, he lettered all four years being picked All Big 8 Honorable Mention (’67) and first team all Big 8 Academic (’67), Honorable Mention All America Academic (’67) plus the Dean’s list for Academics (’65, ’66, ’67). He was on the UNL Baseball team in 1966 and was a Detroit Tigers draft pick in 1967.

John Sherlock – Omaha South

2013 InducteeAthlete. Class of  1979

John Sherlock found fame and glory paving the way for the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ “Scoring Explosion” team of 1982 and 1983. It easily could have come on other fields. A consensus Nebraska high school Athlete of the Year in 1979, Sherlock stood out on the wrestling mat and the shot put circle as well as the football field. On the gridiron he was a three-year letterman at Omaha South, helping the Packers win the Metro Conference championship in 1977 and earning all-state honors in 1978. On the wrestling mat, he garnered numerous AAU championships and completed his high school career capturing the Class A heavyweight championship in 1978 and 1979, posting a two-year record of 61-0. A 60-foot shot putter, he earned the all-class gold medal at the state track meet as a junior and senior.

Data specialist dropped few clues about his athletic achievements

It’s been a few years since John Sherlock, data specialist in the College of Nursing, graduated from Omaha South High School in 1979. So it hadn’t even occurred to him that in 2013, he might be inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Do his co-workers in continuing nursing education know?

“Well,” he said sheepishly, “it kind of got leaked out in the paper.”

The news is out. And after more than 30 years, the memories came flooding back: “Coaches,” Sherlock said. “Situations. Long days. It was always fun, never work.”

Really? Yes, Sherlock said. He was always optimistic. Even on days when the coaches were yelling and making them stay late and do drills till they dropped, “I figured they couldn’t keep you overnight.”

The work paid off. Sherlock set the state record in the shot put. He was all-state in football, helping the Packers win a Metro championship. He went undefeated in his final two wrestling seasons, winning two state titles along the way. As a senior, he was the Omaha World-Herald’s prep athlete of the year.

He was so good in football he eventually became a starter on the University of Nebraska’s 1983 “Scoring Explosion” offense, as a tackle (“Every game we played was a track meet,” he said). But it was wrestling he loved most.

“Everything else was just to keep me in shape,” he said. He knew, as a serious wrestler, he’d be in training: “I figured, you can either run, or you can play something fun.” So he did.

And he had fun.

But his best moment in sports, he said, was when he was a freshman in high school, before anyone knew his name. He was the lowest seed in a wrestling tournament. He went up against Omaha North’s Paul DeBolt, the top seed (DeBolt was always the top seed in those days; he went on to become a first-team all-conference lineman at Nebraska-Omaha). Too young to fully realize what a big deal this was, Sherlock won, and walked off the mat.

What a feeling it was.

Years later, he became the top seed everyone went after. Years later, his daughter made him a soccer fan. Years later, he works at UNMC. He hadn’t thought about a lot of this stuff for a long time.

“It’s a great honor,” Sherlock said.

It’s been great to remember that long-ago wrestling match one more time.


Willard Schmidt – Swanton

Athlete.  Despite his height – 6 feet, 6 inches – Willard Schmidt did not start playing basketball until his junior year when he joined the team coached by Hall of Famer Joe Sukovaty. His junior year, Schmidt led his team to a Class L state basketball championship. Schmidt scored 43 of the 107 points the team tallied in four games. His senior year (1928), Schmidt, by then an inch taller, led Swanton to a 22-1 record and a Class F title. Swanton outscored its opponents 109-46, and Schmidt had 45 of the 109. Schmidt went on to play for Creighton University from 1931 to 1934 and was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection. Creighton was the MVC champion the 1931-1932 season and runner-up the next two seasons. Schmidt played for the AAU national championship team from McPherson, Kan., in 1936 and was picked for the 1936 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Berlin – the first American team to win an Olympic gold medal.