Lincoln Northeast (Class of 1999)
In the classroom and on the playing field, Trevor Johnson excelled. In the top one percent academically, the unanimous prep athlete of the year excelled in three sports. After missing most of his junior football season with a broken leg, the tight end/defensive end caught 42 passes for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year. On defense, he was credited with 54 tackles, including 13 for a loss, seven sacks and eight pass break-ups while leading the 10-2 Rockets to the state semifinal. All-state in football and basketball and an all-class gold medalist in the discus, he helped the Rockets to three straight basketball championships. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he was a four-year football letterman. He played four years in the NFL.
Cambridge (Class of 2003)
Christina (Houghtelling) Hudson enjoyed the high school career of dreams. All-class all-state in volleyball and basketball, three all-class gold medals in track, superior ratings in music and class valedictorian, the 2003 Prep Athlete of the Year led Cambridge High School to the state volleyball and basketball tournaments while earning letters in all three sports for four years. Her legacy of honors continued at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she played an integral role in the Huskers’ four Big 12 championships and two Final Four appearances. Named the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year as a junior, she was a two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Kearney High (Class of 1967)
Tom Heller was the epitome of the natural athlete. Name the sport, Heller, the 1967 Athlete of the Year, excelled. Bob Devaney once said he could have played all 22 positions at college football’s highest level. Heller was the first Kearney High football player to rush for 1,000 yards, earning all-state honors while leading the Bearcats to a 10-1 record. He also earned all-state honors in basketball and qualified for the state track meet in the hurdles. At Nebraska, he was a part-time starter as a defensive back and kick returner before leaving after his sophomore year to join the Navy. After his military service, he went on to coach in Colorado where he was a positive influence on many young athletes
Lincoln Southeast (Class of 2002)
Before winning multiple Gold Glove Awards and being a World Series hero, Alex Gordon was Nebraska’s Prep Athlete of the Year as a senior at Lincoln Southeast. An all-state and record-setting receiver and defensive back on the football field, he rose to stardom on the baseball diamond where he was all-state for three years, hitting .483 with 25 home runs and 112 RBIs. Furthering his career at the University of Nebraska, he led the Cornhuskers to their first College World Series game victory and was the consensus Player of the Year in 2005. The second pick in the Major League Draft, he was named the Minor League Player of the Year in 2006 and started in left field for the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series championship team.
Bellevue (Class of 1973)
A three-sport athlete at Bellevue High School, Rik Bonness shone brightest on the football field where he played center and linebacker, earning all-state honors his senior season and earning a scholarship to play at Nebraska. For the Cornhuskers, Bonness achieved the honor of being the seventh two-time All-American playing center. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the third round of the NFL Draft. Converted back to linebacker, he played 59 games in the NFL for the Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a member of the Raiders’ Super Bowl championship team of 1977.
North Platte (Class of 1944)
“Bullet” Jack McCartney blended speed, drive and a change of pace that made him one of the most dangerous football players of his time. Tagged as Nebraska’s best high school athlete in his sophomore year, McCartney made a name for himself in track, winning all-class gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes as well as the broad jump during his junior season. An injury prevented him from defending his titles his senior year. All-state in football and a three-year basketball letterman, McCartney served in the Navy before playing football at Northwestern University. After suffering a fractured pelvis, he transferred to the University of Nebraska to complete his college education.
Omaha South (Class of 1958)
Richard Brown played a crucial role in bringing a championship atmosphere to Omaha South. A four-time state wrestling finalist and three-time champion, he led the Packers to three straight state championships in wrestling. In football, the standout halfback and cornerback helped the Packers win the mythical state championship in 1957. He furthered his wrestling career at Iowa State, finishing third in the Big Eight Tournament in 1960. After college, Brown taught and coached at Wesley House for 26 years and served as the youth district director for USA Wrestling Nebraska.
A devotion to the sport of basketball and a pursuit of excellence helped Duane Mendlik put together a career of more than 650 victories ╨ second-highest in Nebraska boys basketball history. A 35-year stint at West Point Central Catholic and a decade at Wisner-Pilger resulted in 15 state-tournament appearances. He coached West Point Central Catholic to back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999 and a runner-up finish in 2003. He also has coached football and boys golf.
DON “TOT” HOLMES
As the sports editor of the Tri-City Tribune, Don “Tot” Holmes used his story-telling skills and a fascination for statistics to develop the newspaper into the center of attention in Dawson County and the surrounding area. Focusing on the Southwest and Hi-Line Conferences, Holmes brought attention and notoriety to thousands of high school athletes. An avid sports fan, Holmes launched the Gothenburg Little League baseball program and was active in other youth programs. He also published comprehensive annual reviews of the Los Angeles Dodgers. An avid historian, he has written books covering 100-year histories of Gothenburg High School football and track.
Small towns can produce big influence on high school athletics, and the Del and Marilyn Stracke family of Stuart proved that. Three daughters and two sons have played, coached and won on the biggest stages, starting with their youngest daughter, Darcy is the leading scorer in basketball and a Hall of Fame inductee as an athlete in 2011. She went on to star in college and coached state volleyball champions in Montana. Sisters Stacey and Sandy, standout high school and collegiate athletes, as well as brother, Jerry, have enjoyed successful coaching careers as well. Each have taken their teams to the Nebraska state tournament multiple times, with Jerry winning five girls’ basketball titles with West Point Central Catholic Guardian Angels. Sandy’s husband John Miller, has surpassed the 700-victory plateau an has achieved the rare distinction of coaching state champion girls’ and boys’ basketball teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 2017.