Athlete- 2019 (2000)
A gifted athlete in multiple sports, Richie Ross earned All-Class, All-State honors in football and basketball and was the All-Class gold-medal winner in the triple jump at the State Track meet. The consensus 2000 Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year, Ross earned nine varsity letters at Lincoln High, established school single-season and career receiving records in football and set school single-season and single-game (49) scoring records on the basketball court. He signed with the University of South Dakota to play basketball, appearing in 18 games his freshman year before transferring to the University of Nebraska at Kearney to play football, becoming an NCAA Division II All-American and record-setting receiver, catching 50 touchdown passes in 44 games. He netted 4,882 receiving yards on 279 receptions at UNK. Ross signed with the NFL’s Houston Texans, but injuries ended his professional career.
Diane Rouzee’s 30-year career as head volleyball coach of Grand Island Northwest produced three state championships, six runner-up finishes, 23 trips to the state tournament and a 768-183 record. The recipient of the National Coach of the Year Award in 2018, Rouzee retired with the eighth-highest win total in Nebraska history. Called a “second mother” by many of her players, she watched her teams establish state records for kills and digs in a match. She has been on the coaching staff of the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Game three times, twice as head coach.
Rochelle Rohlfs forged Omaha Marian into a volleyball power, rolling up a 718-245 record in her 26 years as head coach. Her career included four state championships, four other state finals appearances and a total of 21 trips to the state tournament. She coached in the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Game three times and has won several Coach of the Year awards. An educator at heart who viewed coaching as teaching, she had eight of her former players go on to become head volleyball coaches at Nebraska high schools. She also had brief stints coaching soccer and track at Marian.
South Sioux City (Class of 2001)
Katie (Robinette) Kock collected almost every basketball honor available to a prep athlete. Her coach, Kelly Flynn, said she was a coach’s dream ╨ a great player and hard worker who never hesitated to help younger players improve their game. Her list of honors included prep All-American, Gatorade Player of the Year, four-time all-stater, and holder of several school records. She finished her career averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds per game while leading the Cardinals to a 102-5 record, three state championships and a No. 1 national ranking in USA Today. She played collegiately at Nebraska and Iowa State, earning All-Big 12 second-team honors as a senior for the Cyclones.
Benkelman (Class of 1975)
Danis (Richards) Willet made the quarter-mile race her specialty, winning the Class C gold medal all four years and claiming all-class honors her junior and senior seasons. She finished her high school track career with 15 medals in the 440-, 880- and 220-yard dashes as well as the mile relay. At Kearney State College, she continued to set records, ranking in the top 25 of all collegiate runners and becoming the first Nebraska woman to break the 55-second barrier in the 400. Her career in track continued into her 30s where she won national titles in the 100, 200 and 400 and won the National Outstanding Female Athlete Award in her age group in 1991.
Lincoln Southeast (Class of 2001)
Touchdowns highlighted Barrett Ruud’s football career before tackles made him a pro. The cornerstone of three Lincoln Southeast state football championships, Ruud made the Knights varsity as a freshman, started as a sophomore and set school career records with 2,988 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Athlete of the Year in 2001, Ruud was a three-year letterman and a two-time all-state honorable mention all-state selection in basketball. A third-generation Husker football standout, he was a 4-year letterman at linebacker, setting a single-season and career record for tackles. He went on to play eight years in the NFL, making more than 100 tackles in half of those years.
Norfolk Catholic (Class of 1988)
Good at everything he did, Kevin Ramaekers locked up the Athlete of the Year award in 1988 by earning all-state honors in football, winning gold at the state wrestling meet and winning the all-class gold medal in the shot put at the state track meet. A Bally All-American in 1987, he helped Norfolk Catholic reach the state championship game his senior year, concluding a career where he was a two-time all-class, all-state player. On the wrestling mat, he finished third at state as a sophomore and a junior before winning his senior season. Posting the fourth-best shot-put mark in state history, he won back-to-back all-class gold medals. A three-year mainstay on the defensive line at Nebraska, Ramaekers earned All-Big Eight honors as a senior and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Larry Ribble’s boys basketball teams enjoyed more than their share of success, winning seven state championships and qualifying for 10 other state tournaments. His teams’ state championship success started in Class C at Pawnee City before his Millard South squads won five Class A crowns. His 1970 and 1971 Pawnee City teams won 35 straight games and two state championshps. His 1989 Millard South team was the first undefeated Class A team in 30 years. Coaching from 1965 to 2004, Ribble guided his teams to a 509-280 record. He also coached at Holmesville, Dorchester, Falls City and Hastings. He coached track for 22 years at Millard South, the last 12 as head coach.
John Reta was the center of swimming in Nebraska for nearly 20 years. Instituting the program at Lincoln Southeast, Reta coached the Knights to eight consecutive boys state swimming championships from 1959 to 1966. His swimmers won 11 individual state titles and set 18 state records. The Knights put together a winning streak of 59 consecutive meets then, after a one-point loss, won another 23 straight. He was the 1962 Lincoln Journal Star Coach of the Year and the 1965 Omaha World-Herald Coach of the Year. Reta left Lincoln Southeast to become head swimming and diving coach at the University of Nebraska, a position he held from 1966 to 1978. Reta got his start coaching the Palmer (Colo.) High School swim team. Next he coached basketball, track and six-man football teams at Gurley for one year.
Athlete–One of the most exciting athletes of all time, this 1949 Grand Island High School graduate showed his natural ability early. While an Islander sophomore, he was already a starter on the fine basketball team there which captured back to back Class A state championships. And in football, the Purple & Gold rolled over all on the gridiron with Bobby Reynolds in the backfield to two undefeated state championship seasons. Yet it was his achievements as a University of Nebraska Cornhusker halfback which created the legend. In his greatest season on the football gridiron as a college sophomore in 1950, he reached All-American status. He was a top scorer in the nation, and his unbelievable run from scrimmage against Missouri is still shown on film. Yes, for one brief shining moment, without question Bobby Reynolds was “Mr. Touchdown, USA.”