Damon Benning- Omaha Northwest


Athlete- 2019  (1992)

Damon Benning owned the spotlight at Omaha Northwest on the football, basketball and baseball teams, earning All-Metro and All-State honors in football and baseball.  A stellar performer on the football field, Benning switched from quarterback to running back his senior year and rushed for 1,548 yards and 21 touchdowns.  He put together nine straight 100-yard games, a Class A record and rushed for 358 years and five touchdowns in one game.  At Nebraska, Benning was a four-year letterman who helped the Huskers win back-to-back national championships.  The MVP of the 1996 Orange Bowl, Benning finished his career with 270 carries for 1,562 yards and 2,625 all-purpose years.  After college, he was signed as a free agent by the Carolina Panthers.  He finished his playing career with the Lincoln Football Team.

Rik Bonness-Bellevue


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.

Richard Brown-Omaha South


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.

Larry Bornschlegl-Hastings

An outstanding athlete at Geneva High School and the University of Nebraska, Larry Bornschlegl never got far away from the playing field, enjoying a long career as a coach, school administrator and referee. Considered one of the premier basketball referees in the 1970s and ‘80s, Bornschlegl completed a basketball officiating career that covered 20 years and included 10 state tournaments and eight state championship games. After putting away the whistle, he dedicated his efforts to improve the quality of officiating, offering advice while helping develop the Nebraska School Activities Association’s program of observing and evaluating officials. He has served as an observer for more than 20 years.

Kim (Behrends) Buckendahl- Chappell

Chappell (Class of 1997)
Kim (Behrends) Buckendahl rewrote Nebraska high school volleyball’s record books. From her 42 kills in the state championship match to her 1,643 career kills, Behrends dominated small-town volleyball like no other. She led Chappell to back-to-back undefeated state championships and a 55-match winning streak. All-class all-state for two years and Class D-1 all-state all four years, she earned Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 1996 and was Volleyball Magazine’s runner-up for National Player of the Year. Also a basketball standout, she finished her career with 1,384 points. The Lincoln Journal-Star’s 1997 Female Athlete of the Year, Behrends went on to letter four years on the Nebraska Cornhuskers volleyball team and was one of the tri-captains on the 34-0 national championship team of 2000.

JIM BARKER – Scottsbluff







Jim Barker arrived at Scottsbluff in 1988 and turned the Bearcats into a cross country power – a project that has resulted in 11 boys state championships, more than any other coach in Nebraska history. In addition, the Scottsbluff boys accumulated five runner-up finishes. In his 28 years at the helm, the Scottsbluff boys qualified for state 26 times, finishing in the top four 22 times. Dedicated to the success and improvements of all on his team, not just the best, he also coached a number of highly successful girls cross country teams, including two state runner-up squads. He coached girls and boys track and field for nine years, including the 2012 boys team that won the Class B championship and the 2013 and 2015 boys squads that placed second. He retired as the school’s track coach in 2016, but he continues to coach cross country.



Omaha South (Class of 1991)





Terrance Badgett, a two-time all-state player, led the Packers to the Class A state championship in 1990 and averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per game the following year while earning honors as the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year. A Nebraska Cornhusker recruit, he made the Big Eight All-Freshman team and, as a senior, was named to the Big Eight All-Bench team. As a Husker he played in 127 games and scored more than 200 points each season, finishing with a career total of 953. He played professionally for five seasons in the U.S. and overseas.

Bob Boozer – Omaha Tech

Athlete. Today in western Omaha is situated an interesting junction of history. The main line of the Union Pacific Railroad’s push west across America intersected Pacific Street. Years later another street crossed Pacific, Bob Boozer Drive, appropriately bearing the name of one of the finest basketball players in our nation’s history. Graduating from Omaha Technical High School in 1955 and an all-state caliber player at any early age, he starred at Kansas State and on into the professional ranks. The only Nebraska high school basketball player to ever achieve All-American status at the top college level, he then played for nearly a dozen years in professional basketball, averaging over twenty points a game in his best years. K-State honored him as the leading vote-getter on its 10-man Team of the Century. “We were No. 1 in the nation for part of my junior year. We made it to the Final Four. We were undefeated in the Big Eight,” he said. As one who believed in hard work and practice, he covets many well-deserved honors, especially the gold medal earned while a member of the 1960 American Olympic basketball team. Later, in his post-basketball life in hometown Omaha, he completed an Olympic torch run through Omaha by lighting a cauldron that was part of a downtown ceremony. “It was a great experience and brought back memories of 1960 in Rome,” he said. He was the first player picked in the 1959 NBA draft and played 11 years in the NBA with Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New York and Los Angeles  He was an NBA All-Star in 1968 and on an NBA basketball champion in 1971.

Boozer spent 27 years working at Northwestern Bell, which became U.S. West. The last 10 of those years were as a federal lobbyist. He retired in 1997 and soon after was selected to serve on the Nebraska Board of Parole.

Former Kansas State All-American Bob Boozer, of Omaha, Neb., a member of the United States’ 1960 gold medal basketball team at the Rome Olympics, held the Olympic torch on Thursday, Jan. 10, after lighting a cauldron in downtown Omaha to wrap up the flame’s visit to Nebraska.

Merle Bauer – Holdrege & North Platte

Coach. Before graduating from Shubert High School in 1943, Merle earned All State honors in basketball and football in both junior and senior years.  He took his bachelors degree at Peru State where he was a four letterman in basketball, receiving All Conference recognition three years and selected  N.A.I.A. Division II All American.  Merle’s first coaching job was at Bertrand High School where he coached all sports from 1950-54.  Moving to Tecumseh H. S. he took the head basketball job and assisted in all other sports until 1957 when he moved to Holdrege.  He led the Dusters roundball crew for 12 years.  Under his tuteledge Holdrege had 158 wins 59 losses with a string of 36 consecutive wins, a Class B record at the time.  His teams were State Class B Champions in 1967 and runners-up in 1959.  Giving up the coaching reins in 1969 he took the athletic director job at North Platte until 1988.  Merle received many awards for contributions to Nebraska high school athletics that included the Mike Heck award, and the Outstanding Service to Nebraska High School Athletics from the Nebraska School Activities Association.  Merle has been elected to two more Halls of Fame, the Richardson County Athletic Hall of Fame and the Peru State College Athletic Hall of Fame.  He served as meet director of the early girls state track meets as long as they were held in North Platte.


From the North Platte Telegraph, 2002

Merle Bauer, the man for whom the North Platte High School athletic and track field is named, will be posthumously inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame next week in Lincoln.

The Hall of Fame honor will recognize Bauer on multiple levels: as an athlete, as a basketball coach and as an athletic director.

For nearly two decades, until his death in 1988 of a heart attack, Bauer had been the athletic director at North Platte High School.

“Merle took an athletic program that was disorganized, limited and mediocre and turned it into one of the finest in the state. Many new programs have been added because he has a strong belief in involving a lot of students,” the superintendent of the North Platte public schools said when Bauer received the athletic director of the year award in 1977.

Bauer has been credited as a key figure in expanding the scope of girls’ sports in North Platte. The girls’ state track meet was held in North Platte for seven years with Bauer directing and coordinating the meet that annually involved about 1,000 athletes from 320 schools in four divisions

For Bauer, who grew up in the village of Shubert in southeastern Nebraska, athletics were always part of his life; coaching always a dream and goal. As a high school junior and again as a senior he was named to All-State honors in both basketball and football and had earned a state-wide reputation in track and baseball.

In 1943, as the United States was embroiled in World War II and as Bauer prepared to graduate, he wrote about his future plans. “My ambition is not decided fully. The ambition of any boy now cannot be fully made with this world at war. Had it not been for the war, I would have liked to be a coach. In coaching there is plenty of work, but it is the kind of work I like.” Bauer wrote just weeks before high school graduation.

Following his military service Bauer enrolled at Peru State College where he was a four-year letterman, received all-conference designation for three of those years and made three consecutive trips to the N.A.I.A. basketball tournament in Kansas City. He was named N.A.I.A. Division II All-American.

Bauer began living his dream of coaching, a career that encompassed 19 years of his life, beginning in Bertrand and Tecumseh. From 1957-69, as head basketball coach in Holdrege, he turned the Class B school into a perennial state power, taking teams to the state tournament six times, winning the Class B championship in 1967. His lifetime record as a coach was 245 wins and 98 defeats.

The finale to his coaching career was as the South coach for the first All-Star state basketball team in 1969 where he coached his team to a 60-45 win. He went on to be director of the Nebraska Coaches Association all-star games for four years while serving as athletic director in North Platte.

When Bauer served as director for the all-star games he wrote in a letter to Nebraska high school coaches:

“We want to encourage each young man who wears a basketball uniform of a Nebraska high school to do his best individually as well as a member of a team. We also want to encourage him to display the kind of sportsmanship and character on and off the court that will make him an ALL star.”

When he died in 1988, the newspaper in Holdrege where he had coached for so many years, wrote that Bauer had maintained throughout his life what he had emphasized to young athletes.

“Merle Bauer will be remembered as a gentleman and fine teacher. Soft-spoken, he was one who let his actions speak louder than words. Most of all, Mr. Bauer had the common sense and ability to get along with people on and off the court. He was a great coach and person.”

At North Platte High School it’s called Bauer Field. It is named for Merle Bauer.

Dan Brand – Bellevue

2010Athlete. Dan Brand’s path to the 1964 Olympic bronze medal in wrestling followed a round-about path. At Bellevue High School, he participated in football, basketball and track, achieving modest success. At the University of Nebraska, the 6-foot, 5-inch Brand played on the freshman basketball team but was cut from the varsity as a sophomore. He signed up for the intramural wrestling meet, winning the heavyweight division and beating the Huskers’ varsity heavyweight. On the varsity, he went 3-15 as a sophomore, improved to a .500 wrestler as a junior and earned All-American honors by finishing fourth at the NCAA meet his senior year. In 1960, he placed second in the AAU freestyle championships and fifth at the Rome Olympics. From 1961-64, he won four national AAU freestyle championships, one Greco-Roman championship and placed third in the world championships in 1962 before finishing third in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.