Gwen Egbert built two volleyball dynasties at Papillion-LaVista and Papillion-LaVista South high Schools, with each school forging state championship “three-peats.” Egbert started her coaching career with Papillion-LaVista in 1987 and over the next 15 years led the Monarchs to the State Championship match eight times, winning state titles in 2000, ’01 and ’02. In 2003 she took over Papillion-LaVista South, building another dynasty that achieved runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009 before going on a three-year run that included three state titles and a 119-1 record. The lone loss in that three-year period was to a nationally-ranked team from Kentucky. Egbert left the high school ranks in 2013 to take over the Doane University Tigers, finishing with a 684-233 record as a high school coach.
Athlete- 2019 (1977)
In the early years of Title XI mandated girls’ athletics, Sheila (Miller) Estes emerged as one of the early starts, earning starting positions in volleyball and basketball and winning a gold medal in the State Track meet. On the track the won the Metro Conference 220-yard dash and shot put all three years. At the state meet, she won gold medals in those events as well as the mile relay. On the basketball court, she was one of the top rebounders in the state, helping Central reach the State Championship semi-finals. She accepted a basketball scholarship to Creighton University where she was a four-year letter winner.
Class of 1953
Turning down a professional baseball contract after high school, Ekwall attended the University of Nebraska, building on a basketball and baseball career that was forged in one of Nebraska’s smallest schools. A four-year starter in basketball who averaged more than 20 points per game each year at Holmesville, Ekwall earned Class D all-state honors three times and was an all-class all-state player as a senior when he averaged 28.3 points per game. He finished his high school career with 1,984 points. An outstanding pitcher and hitter in baseball, he played for Hays, Kan., Ban Johnson league before reporting to the Cornhuskers to play basketball and baseball. The Huskers’ leading scorer and rebounder in 1956 and 1957, he finished his career averaging a record 10.4 rebounds per game, a record that has stood for more than 50 years. He was inducted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
Fred Egley’s long association with Norfolk athletics began as an assistant coach in 1939. He started the school’s gymnastics program the next year and was football coach in 1942. After serving in the Pacific in World War II, he returned to Norfolk and education. He became athletic director for the high school and the city’s junior college in November 1950. He kept his high school duties through 1969. He was on the NSAA board of control from 1965 to 1970 and was junior college AD through 1981. A basketball and football official for many years, his close association with athletics allowed him to serve as a motivator, counselor and supporter, contributing to the development and progress of coaches, teams, athletes and activities in Northeast Nebraska.
Cory Eikmeier covered a lot of ground in his high school football career – nearly five miles of running through, over, and away from opposing defenders. While leading Dodge to three consecutive Class D1 state championships, Eikmeier set five national records – points in a career (1,021), points in a season (448), touchdowns in a season (68), 100-yard games in a career (41) and consecutive 100-yard games (22). He set a state record with 8,763 rushing yards, including 2,965 yards in one season. He also earned all-state honorable mention playing on the basketball team that finished second in the state tournament. He went on to play football at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Coach–It takes a special kind of talent to coach a sport and promote the sport at the same time. Such a man was Coach Vern Ekfelt, a wrestling and baseball coach at Omaha Central High School from 1943-1948, and then more coaching at Omaha North High School between 1948 and 1974. While his wrestling teams won five state championships, he materially aided in the development of high school wrestling as a sport throughout Nebraska. He initiated a season-opening invitational tournament at Omaha North High, a unique event. From 1980 onward, that tournament was called the Vern Ekfelt Invitational.
Coach Ekfelt wrestled for four years at the University of Iowa without having had the benefit of a high school program. He was also active as a wrestling official for some 20 years besides his coaching duties.
Athlete. In 1980, as a freshman at Wheeler Central High School, Karlene Erickson won a gold medal (all-class best) in the 3200 meter run. Her time as a Class D competitor was a full one minute faster than the time of the Class C winner in the event that year. For four straight years she won the 3200 meter gold, finishing in 1983 with a state record time of 10:19, high on the all-time best list to this day. She also won two gold medals in high school at state in the 1600 meter run. In addition, she helped Wheeler Central become Class D girls state champion in track & field for three consecutive years. The word legend comes to mind while checking her credentials.
The World-Herald’s 1959 athlete of the year was a four-year starter in football and basketball at Holy Name. The Ramblers went to state in basketball all four years, winning Class A in 1957 and 1958. He was All-class all-state in 1958 and 1959 in basketball and 1958 in football and played in the first Nebraska Shrine Bowl in 1959. He played basketball at Creighton, 1961-63.
The 1953 Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star Athlete of the Year, Don Erway excelled in football, basketball and baseball for the Links. He was a member of the undefeated Links football teams in 1951 and 1952, averaging 6.85 yards per carry as an all-state halfback. On the hardwood, Erway was his team’s leading scorer, averaging 19.5 points per game during the 1952-1953 season, and he was selected for the all-state team that year. Erway played catcher for the 1951 and 1952 state champion baseball teams. He went on to play football and baseball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Erway lettered in football the 1954 and 1955 seasons and played on the Orange Bowl team of 1954. In 1955, Erway scored 55 points, which ranked second in the Big Seven. He also played baseball for the Huskers for two years before a knee injury ended his career.
Athlete: A 1973 Fremont High School graduate, he won all but two races throughout his high school swimming career, setting state records at all four state meets. He was the first Nebraska swimmer to break four minutes in the 400-meter freestyle. He won seven gold medals at the state meet.