Doug Denson= Millard South

Coach- 2019

Few Coaches have won more honors and accolades than Doug Denson.  In his 35-year career coaching wrestling-the last 22 at Millard South–Denson steered the Patriots to five State Team Championships, including four straight from 2005-08, and five runner-up finishes.  Millard South also won three of the first five State Dual Championships.  His 2006 team set a State Meet record with 12 medalists and a district record with 272.5 points.  In 2015, another State Championship year, Denson was named the National Coach of the Year.  Early in his career, Denson coached at Palmer and Boys Town, leading Palmer to a state runner-up finish in 1987.  He coached more than 300 state qualifiers and nearly 200 medalists, including 29 state champions at Millard South, three at Boys Town and two at Palmer.  He was the first Nebraska wrestling coach with 400 dual victories


TONY DAVIS – Tecumseh

Tecumseh (Class of 1971)
Tony Davis’ hard-nosed running style churned up yard after yard and touchdown after touchdown for the Tecumseh Indians. A four-year starter, Davis rushed for more than 5,000 yards, including 1,700 yards his junior and senior seasons. The leading tackler on defense, he also returned punts and kicks. He earned all-state and All-American honors in 1969 and 1970, averaging more than 10 yards per carry both years. He started in basketball and was a state qualifier in track as a hurdler. In college, he started at I-back and fullback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, earning MVP honors in the Cotton Bowl in 1973 and Sugar Bowl in 1974. A fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL, he left the Cornhuskers as their all-time leading rusher. He played six seasons in the NFL and one in the USFL.

Matt Davison – Tecumseh

2013 InducteeAthlete, Class of 1997

Best known for his touchdown off a deflected pass against Missouri, a catch that saved Nebraska’s national championship season of 1997, Matt Davison honed his receiving skills at Tecumseh High School where he set numerous state records for receiving yards, including career (3,623), season (1,516) and single-game (313). He also set single-game and career-records for touchdown receptions, finishing with 51. All-state in basketball as well as football, Davison led Tecumseh to its first state championship. He scored a school-record 1,976 points in his career, 702 points in a season and 54-points in a single game on the hard court. He also qualified for the state track meet in three events.


3-30-13 Ryle Jane Hambleton, Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska football fans remember Matt Davison for “The Catch.”

Davison dove to scoop up the ball when a pass from Scott Frost bounced off Shevin Wiggins’ foot in the end zone. The touchdown, in the closing seconds of the 1997 game at Missouri, tied the game and the Huskers went on to win.

But when Davison thinks about his high school sports career, football isn’t his first memory.

“I didn’t think I’d be playing football. During my freshman and sophomore years, people could have come to football games and barely know I played,” the Tecumseh graduate said. “My junior year, our quarterback, Danny Thies, could throw as well as anybody in the state. We threw the ball a little bit and I had a big season.

“Even then, Nebraska was the best team in nation and to get a scholarship offer was something I didn’t think would happen. I went to only one football camp in my life, at Nebraska, and Tom Osborne offered me a scholarship.”

Davison is one of 10 athletes, four coaches, one official and two contributors who will be inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame this fall. Davison was the Lincoln Journal Star athlete of the year in 1997 after earning Super-State honors in football and leading his basketball team to an undefeated season and the Class C-2 state title en route to all-state honors.

Davison said basketball was his passion, although he also ran track and played baseball.

“Basketball was my first love. I enjoyed playing it more than anything else. My football memories are more from college,” Davison said. “When I think about high school, I think about our state championship basketball season. Chris Hutt was such a good influence on me, and not just as a coach.”

Davison said high school sports provided some special times for him.

“I think about the hard work I learned being from a small town and growing up on a farm. I had parents who taught me work ethic and I was very lucky to have good coaching in a small community,” he said. “When I think about games, I think about my buddies, my friends. That’s what’s special about high school to me.

“We had big goals to win a state championship. Our football team only lost six games in four years. But in basketball, we did win state. Winning a state title with friends you’ve known your whole life is really special.”


Gil Dodds – Falls City

Athlete. For years Nebraska high school milers ran in the footsteps of this famous track star. Gil Dodds was graduated from Falls City High School in 1937. In his final spring he ran a mile in a record time of 4:28.1. The state record time lasted until well after World War II. He never lost a race in high school competition, winning the mile at the boys state track meet his sophomore, junior and senior years. Later, he became nationally known as a runner and in 1948 when he was 29 years old set a blazing pace, winning an indoor race in Madison Square Garden in 4:05.3, then a record time.

Dodds ran at Ashland (Ohio) College and became known world wide while running for the Boston Athletic Club, setting the world indoor mile record three different times and winning the Sullivan Award in 1943 as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete.

There was an amusing article in the newspapers sometime back. It was about America’s premier mile runner of the 1940s, Gil Dodds. Dodds was known as “The Flying Parson” because he was an ordained minister. Dodds usually signed autographs along with a scripture reference. This was his way of setting an example. Not all of his fans knew what the notations meant, though. When he wrote “Phil. 4:13” as a shortened form of Philippians 4:13, one fan thought that was Dodds’ phone number. Another mistook it for Dodds’ performance in a race at Philadelphia. Dodds spent one summer running against Swedish great Gunder Hagg, and the promoters switched distances. They were supposed to run one mile. They ended up running two. So Dodds accompanied his autograph with “Matthew 5:43,” which reads: “Whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.”

Key Bible Verse: Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress (Hebrews 12:1). Bonus Reading: Hebrews 12:1–4

Runner Gil Dodds was once preparing for a race. After a series of stretching exercises, Dodds ran several warmup laps around the track. Just before the race began, he quickly changed into some other track shoes. One of the onlookers asked why he was changing shoes. Dodds tossed to the inquirer one of his warmup shoes. Then one of his racing shoes.

The man was still puzzled. There was no detectable difference in the two shoes. Both looked the same. Both seemed to weigh the same. Dodds explained. There was indeed a difference. The warmup shoes were slightly heavier than his racing shoes. Though only a small difference, saving even that much weight for the race could spell the difference between victory and defeat.

Howard Debus – Lincoln High

Athlete. The 1940 graduate of Lincoln High School earned his way into a very elite club of Nebraska athletes who held a best-in-the-nation record while in high school. His 174-foot discus throw in 1940 was a national high school record which lasted through World War II. One of the most versatile athletes in state history, he was an all-state halfback for two years on a Lincoln High teams with a winning record of 23-1-1. At the 1940 boys state track meet, he won gold medals in the pole vault, discus, shot  put and the javelin. While a student at the University of Nebraska he won the discus event at the 1943 NCAA outdoor national track meet and in the NCAA national championships in 1943, he scored 19 points for the Huskers. Scores of boys grew up in Nebraska inspired by the accomplishments of this great athlete, who perhaps was Lincoln High’s best-ever athlete.




Chuck Deter – Gering

Coach. In the last half of the twentieth century, a talented coach who had a yearning for wrestling joined the faculty at Gering High School in Western Nebraska. Chuck Deter was a successful football coach, an athletic director and educator. Yet his specialty was being a superb wrestling coach, one of the best in the nation. Under his 30-year- leadership, the Gering Bulldogs won six state wrestling championships, including a Class A title in 1983. His boys were runners-up seven times, in the top five 20 times. His teams had a state record 96-match dual winning streak that ranks nationally. His teams won 96 tournament championships, also ranking on a national basis.

Deter compiled an amazing career dual record of 264-43-5 at Gering. At one point, the Bulldogs had an 11-year stretch in which they competed in 96 straight dual matches without a loss. It’s one of the longest streaks in the nation.

A number of Deter’s former wrestlers established the Deter Dynasty. The Annual Deter Dynasty Golf Tournament, which benefits the Gering Wrestling Club, is held during Oregon Trail Days at Monument Shadows Golf Course.


Dick Davis – Omaha North

Athlete.  Of the many fine athletes to wear the blue and gold of the Omaha North High School Vikings, this 1966 graduate was a tremendously gifted football star. He averaged 10.4 yards per carry as a fleet-footed halfback and has held the Metropolitan Conference record for most touchdowns per game for nearly a half-century. In addition to his all-state status on the gridiron, he was a two-time state champion wrestler, and a track standout for the Vikings. World-Herald athlete of the year.  As a Nebraska Cornhusker football competitor, he was a leading rusher and an all-conference running back. Perhaps more impressive, he was also twice named as an Academic All-American. This most bright young man finally did well in professional football, playing for the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints.  Inducted in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.

Joe di Natale – North Platte

Contributor. Competitors and spectators alike came to the Nebraska High School Track and Field championships to see the action, but for 40 some years, they also reveled in the distinctive voice of the announcer, Joe di Natale of North Platte. His booming reports of the action added a special cachet to the atmosphere of the state meet. If someone ran the 100-yard dash in ten seconds flat, his feat would be reported by di Natale as being run in a time of “TEN SECONDS E-E-E-EVEN.” He was a pioneer broadcaster of Cornhusker football. Deservedly honored with many awards, he was inducted into the Nebraska Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Any athlete who ever competed at the state track meet during his era likely will never forget the most interesting announcements by Joe di Natale.


Karen Dahlgren Schonewise – Bertrand

Athlete.  From the heartland of America, this bright and successful high school and college athlete, three times an academic college All-American, graduated from Bertrand High School in Phelps County south of the Platte River in 1982. A four-year high school star in basketball, track and volleyball, she was all-state in both basketball and volleyball and the state champion in the l00-meter low hurdles in both 1981 and 1982. She was the all-class gold medal winner in the l00-meter lows in 1981. In volleyball, her knack for blocking the opponent’s slams created some unprecedented statistics, a trend which held true in college as she led the Nebraska volleyball team in blocks four consecutive years. In college, she was twice as All-American and the college player of the year in 1986. She completed her athletic career with success  in professional volleyball.

Karen Dahlgren played a key roll in Nebraska’s 1986 national runner-up finish. A two-time All-American, Dahlgren was honored as a Honda-Broderick Award winner in 1986 after being named to the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America team three straight years. She is also Nebraska’s only player to be named all-conference all four years. One of the best blockers in school history, Dahlgren holds school records for solo blocks in three- and four-game matches. She also holds the top two single-season solo block marks as well as NU’s career solo block record. She ranks third on the all-time total blocks chart with 550. The Bertrand native is also second in school history with a career hitting percentage of .386. She is the only player to lead the Huskers in a statistical category (blocks) all four years. She also led the team in hitting percentage for three years.

JoAnne Dusatko – Omaha Central

Coach. As a teacher coming to Omaha Central in 1967, her first assignment was cheerleader sponsor which she handled for 20 years,  plus organizing Central’s Pom-Pom Squad in 1968.  With the surge of girl’s sports in Nebraska, JoAnne was in line for a number of firsts:  Central High’s first girls golf coach (’71), first girls track coach (’71) and the first girls soccer coach (‘86).  Her track teams were State Meet Champions seven times ’74,’79, ’80, ’81, ’83, ’84, and ’85.  They were State Meet Runners Up five times ’75,’76, ’77, ’78, and ’82.  The track teams had an undefeated string of wins for six years until the 1982 State Meet. Her other honors include Nebraska Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1984, three times Nebraska Coaches Association Girls Track Coach of the Year in 1979,1980 and 1981.  Her other involvements include Greater Omaha Sports Committee Scholar Athlete Committee from 1977 to 2001 serving as Chair Person the last ten years.  She also served the Cornhusker State Winter Games Committee for six years.   Greater Omaha Sports Committee Service to Sports Award in 2000.