Ben Plunknett-Beatrice


Beatrice (Class of 1972)

Walter Harrison (Ben) Plucknett, a four-year letterman in football and track at Beatrice High School and the all-class gold medalist in the shot put and discus throw in 1972, developed into the premier discus thrower in the world. At the University of Missouri, “Big Ben” won three Big Eight Championships before moving into the international competition. He qualified for the 1980 Olympic team, but was denied the opportunity to compete by the Olympic boycott. In 1981, Plucknett continued to compete internationally, and his mark of 237’4” was ratified as a North American record.

Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore-Columbus

Laura (Pilakowski) Buttermore excelled on every field and court. The first female four-year, three-sport letterman at Columbus High School, she earned all-state honors in volleyball and basketball and qualified for the state track meet all four years. The consensus 1999 Female Athlete of the Year, she was the Nebraska Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year as a senior, averaged a double double on the basketball court her junior and senior years and won the long jump gold medal as a sophomore. At Nebraska, she became a two-time volleyball All-American, helping lead the Huskers to the national championship in 2000. She finished her career playing on the Husker women’s basketball team.

JIM PAIGE – Official

Jim Paige spent more than 50 years calling fouls and penalties in football, basketball and track at Nebraska high school athletic events. Described as “quiet, unassuming and hard-working,” Paige displayed a respect for athletes and coaches while maintaining fairmindedness in the implementation of the rules. Selected as the Nebraska Football Official of the Year, Paige worked a handful of state football championships as well as several state basketball tournaments. Primarily a starter in track and cross country, Paige has been a triple jump official at the state track meet for more than 30 years. In addition to being an active official, Paige has mentored dozens of young referees, bringing quality to the ranks of the profession. He has also been an observer and evaluator of officials for the NSAA.

MIKE PURDY – Contributor






No one could account for all the athletes and students who have benefitted from the unselfish contributions Mike Purdy has made to their lives. A coach and administrator in the middle school and high school ranks for more than 40 years, Purdy pioneered and promoted programs and activities that made interscholastic activities in Nebraska a better place. Throughout a career centered on the interests of all students and athletes, Purdy developed scholarship programs, promoted sportsmanship summits and awards, supervised sporting events of every description and fostered an atmosphere of cooperation among organizations supporting athletics. A leader among his peers, Purdy earned Distinguished Service Awards from the Nebraska and National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Associations.
A past chairman of the Metro Conference, Purdy is the NSIAAA’s Executive Director. Mike retired from Bellevue East in 2004.

Glenn Presnell – DeWitt

Athlete.  An all-state football player from DeWitt, Glenn went on to UN-L where he was all-conference for two years and part of the team that beat Illinois and Red Grange in 1925.  After college Glenn moved on to pro football passing up a contract with the New York Giants to play for the Ironton, Ohio Tanks because they offered him a full-time teaching and coaching job in the school system.  When the Ironton franchise folded because of the depression, he moved to the Portsmouth Spartans.  In 1931 the Spartans moved to Detroit and became the Detroit Lions.  As a quarterback Glenn made All-Pro in 1931 and 1933.  Glenn led the Lions to the NFL  championship in 1935 beating the New York Giants 26-7.  At 5-10 and 190 pounds, the former Husker was a 60-minute player rushing for 2, 067 yards, passing for 2,317 yards and scoring 217 points in his career.  He kicked a 52-yard field goal in 1932, which stood as an NFL record for 19 years.  He returned to UN-L in 1938 as an assistant coach and became head coach in 1942 for one year.  After duty with the Army he took on the job of  head football coach and athletic director at Eastern Kentucky until his retirement in 1972.  Reaching the age of 98 this year Glenn is the oldest living NFL player and the oldest living ex-Nebraska football coach.  Glenn was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1973.   Settled in Ironton, Ohio.


John Petersen – Columbus Scotus


John Petersen’s coaching career in volleyball and basketball set the gold standard for girls athletics. He built Columbus Scotus into a volleyball dynasty, winning 15 state championships and seven runner-up trophies in a 36-year span (1973-2013) that included 28 state tournament appearances. Nine of his teams went undefeated. Including a brief stint at Newcastle, Petersen compiled a 863-136 volleyball coaching record. In 23 years as basketball coach (1975-99), Petersen’s teams reached four state finals, winning three state championships. He compiled a 353-148 record. He was awarded nine Coach of the Year honors, including the 2012 National High School Athletic Association National Coach of the Year award.


Adolph “Pat” Panek – Fullerton/St. Paul/Norfolk/Denver

Ranked fifth nationally among high school football coaches in 2004 with a 328-117-29 record over 52 seasons. A Kearney native who excelled in sports in high school and at Kearney State, he coached Fullerton in 1925, St. Paul from 1926 to 1929 and Norfolk from 1929 to 1938 before spending his final 40 years in Denver high schools. His St. Paul teams were Class A boys basketball champions in 1928 and 1929. He has been inducted in the Kearney High, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Colorado High School and National High School Halls of Fame.

Panek set bar at Denver East . Hall of Famer led teams during terms of 10 U.S. presidents
By Clay Latimer, Rocky Mountain News October 15, 2004

Pat Panek coached his first high school football game when Calvin Coolidge was president and his last one during Jimmy Carter’s administration.  In all those years, he rarely lost his magic touch, finishing with 328 wins, including time in Nebraska. ]

Panek enjoyed his greatest success at Denver East, winning 16 city championships and two state titles. But his impact transcended Xs and Os, says one of his former players, Chris Babbs, now headmaster at Colorado Academy.

“He was tremendously dedicated to working with young people and in high school sports,” Babbs said. “It wasn’t just football; he also coached JV basketball, American Legion baseball. He coached year-around.

“He was kind of gruff, but underneath it all was somebody who was always rooting for you, always trying to help you out.  After we graduated, he’d invite us over to his house and we’d go over and watch game film.”

Forced into retirement by Denver Public Schools because of his age, Panek won two Metro League titles at Machebeuf.  His 53-year career is second only to Amos Alonzo Stagg’s mark of 57 years.

He has been selected to the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame (1995), the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (1976), the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame (1991), the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and the University of Nebraska-Kearney Athletic Hall of Fame (1980).

George Pfeifer – Boys Town

Coach. After serving in the US Navy and completing college studies, George Pfeifer came “home” to Boys Town, his alma mater, early in the 1950’s and enjoyed an outstanding head coaching career in basketball and track, and helped with football. His Cowboy basketball teams won the Class A state championship in 1965 and 1966 and his track team was the Class A 1954 champ. He was also the No. 2 man on the Boys Town staff when the school won 1956 and 1957 basketball titles. His track programs turned out some great runners, among them Hall of Fame inductees Charles Jones and Barney Hill. He served as Boys Town’s junior high principal and the school’s athletic director for many years. Graduated in 1944 from Boys Town and earned degrees from Fort Hays State and University of Nebraska-Omaha.


Louise Pound – Lincoln UNL Latin School

Contributor.  Louise Pound was a pioneer among women athletes in the state of Nebraska, enjoying much success during her high school age years although never participating in structured high school athletics. Tennis and golf were her top sports, but she gained acclaim in figure skating, skiing, cycling, basketball, swimming, riding and bowling. She was captain of the University of Nebraska basketball team. She was Lincoln’s best woman golfer for more than 20 years and in 1916 was the first state women’s golf champion. In tennis, many of her championships came against all comers, including men. At one time, she was the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the country. During her 50 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska, she was a staunch advocate of increased opportunities in athletics for females. Deceased.


Vern Plambeck – Kearney

OfficialIt is enough said, perhaps, that Vern Plambeck has officiated high school sports since 1954. That’s six decades, and it would have been continuous except for a 1957 Army tour of duty. In the whistle-blowing fraternity, he developed into one of the best — calling seven state basketball tournaments, including the 1973 Class A boys championship game; officiating 33 football playoff games since 1976, including the first overtime game played in Nebraska (Nov. 12, 1976, Wheatland 38, Hampton 32, Class D championship game). He worked the Coaches Association All-Star Basketball and Shrine Bowl All-Star Football games. He has served the NSAA as a basketball observer starting in 1990, and did the proofreading in 1999 of the National Federation of State High School Association football rulebook and other publications. Hastings High School graduate. College degrees: Hastings College, University of Nebraska. Lives in Kearney, retired professor of English.