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.
Athlete–One of the most highly regarded college football centers of all time, this 1978 graduate of Omaha South High School began his gridiron career as a youngster in the Pee Wee group also in that locale. He was a 6-3, 220-pound lineman who gained high school all-state honors and led South High to a 7-2-1 record in his senior year. Outstanding high school wrestler. As a University of Nebraska Cornhusker, he reached All-America status as a powerful center, finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, most unusual for a lineman in 1982. After college, he played seven years of professional football in the NFL. An Outland, Trophy winner in college, this gentle giant has had his Nebraska football number retired by unanimous acclaim.
Few had the drive Rimington had in the weight room and the classroom. At UNL Rimington went from a “slow, practically skinny” lineman to a fast, hole-opening machine cutting his 40-yard dash from 5.35 to 5.05 from his freshman to his senior year, increasing his bench press from 340 pound to 435 and left Nebraska able to squat 650 pounds.
Equally as impressive was his skill in the classroom with a 3.25 GPA in economics as two-time, first-team Academic All-America and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
Larry Riessland earned a “Mr. Touchdown” label at Pleasanton High School where he scored 80 touchdowns in his career. The running back who set himself apart with his ability to cut while running full speed, scored a national-record nine touchdowns in a single game as a junior, then set a national record with 47 touchdowns in the nine-game season his senior year. He ran for 2,217 yards as a senior and averaged 19 tackles per game with 10 interceptions. In basketball, he scored more than 400 points his junior and senior seasons. He also placed in the 880 at the state track meet. He went on to play football at Kearney State College, but injuries curtailed his career.
Athlete–A 1980 graduate of Grand Island High School, this versatile athlete surprised many at the state track meets by being an excellent high jumper, posting a top personal best of 6’7“ and winning a gold medal as a junior. A running power on the gridiron both in high school and college, he developed into a great fullback at the University of Nebraska (he enjoyed a rare 84-yard touchdown run against Colorado his senior year). During a decade of professional football, he earned two Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers as a runner-blocker-pass catcher for Joe Montana, et al, reaching all-pro status. An NFL player from 1986-94, Rathman helped the 49ers capture two World Championships (Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV) and seven NFC West titles. He totaled 4,392 yards from scrimmage and scored 34 touchdowns while playing in 113 games with San Francisco. He played his final season in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994.