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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Coach–During the roaring twenties of the 20th century, no high school football coach in the country was more inspiring than this gentleman. Between the 1922 and 1929 seasons, he led the Red and Black Links of Lincoln High School to 68 victories, 3 losses and 2 ties for multiple state championships. His skills also included being an excellent basketball coach, leading Lincoln High to two state championship titles in the late 20s. As head basketball coach for the University of Nebraska he led the Cornhuskers to a tie for the championship of the Big Six Conference in 1937. During World War II he went into the service of his country. The first really modern football stadium of Lincoln High was made possible through the disciplined success of this fine coach.
Athlete. Shelly (Block) Tvrdy was a standout in track, cross country and basketball at Gothenburg High School where she holds school records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. In cross country, Block placed in the top three in every meet her sophomore, junior and senior years, except for the state meet her sophomore year. In basketball, she was a member of the 1983 Class B Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star All-State basketball teams, as well as the 1983 Super State and All-State Tourney teams. As a junior she was the leading scorer in the state, averaging 24 points per game, and Gothenburg was the state runner-up her senior season. In track, Block won 15 state meet medals – four as a freshman, three as a sophomore, and four in her junior and senior years. Block attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a two-year starter on the basketball team.
As a player, coach, organizer, promoter and guardian of history, Dick Beechner has never been far from Nebraska high school athletics. An ultra-active member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation Board of Directors, he has served as president and executive director of the organization that has strived to keep alive the legacy of high school athletics. The son of Hall of Fame coach, Ralph Beechner, Dick began his involvement in athletics at Lincoln High School where he played football and basketball and was a conference golf champion. He returned to the school to coach, leading the Links to the state golf titles in 1957 and 1964. College football coaching positions followed – at Hiram Scott, Nebraska, Washington State and Missouri – before he took the position of athletics director at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. At UNK, he helped coordinate state high school golf and cross country meets as well as district basketball events.