Central Nebraska athletes, contributors included in Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame class
LINCOLN - The Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame’s 2022 induction class (28th class) reflects recent celebrations of Title IX, with strong female representation throughout the inductees and honorees.
The induction ceremony will be at 1:00 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Lincoln East High School. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $10 for children. For more information, visit nebhalloffame.org or call 402-476-4767.
The 2022 induction class:
– Bruce Benedict, Millard (1973): A 12-year catcher with the Atlanta Braves who twice was selected for All-Star Games. He was a two-year starter at Millard in football (quarterback), basketball and baseball (catcher) who starred at UNO in baseball.
– Chris Bober, Omaha South (1995): A “late bloomer” who lettered in football and baseball for the Packers, he started 45 consecutive games in the offensive line at UNO and was a two-time Division II All-American. In the NFL, he started 37 of 91 games in seven years for the New York Giants and Kansas City.
– K.C. Cowgill, Grand Island Central Catholic (2002): Nebraska’s longtime leader in 3-point baskets and still its No. 2 scorer was an undefeated state champion in tennis her senior year. The 2000 World-Herald girls athlete of the year was a college standout at Nebraska and Missouri State.
– Phyllis (DeBuhr) Mazour, Beatrice (1984): A three-sport standout at Beatrice, she was Class A all-state in volleyball, all-conference in basketball and a premier pitcher in summer softball leagues. At Kearney State, the two-time NAIA All-America pitched the Lopers to the 1987 NAIA national championship and started for them in volleyball.
– Amber (Hegge) Cunningham, Crofton (2007): The World-Herald’s first two-time female athlete of the year, Hegge led Crofton to three straight state basketball and track titles and won 12 Class C gold medals in track. At South Dakota, she starred in track and basketball – she remains among the top five Coyotes in points, rebounds and blocked shots.
– Alex Henery, Omaha Burke (2006): All-state in soccer and football and the state’s 2006 Gatorade soccer player of the year, he was a 2010 AP All-America kicker who became Nebraska’s all-time scoring leader in football. In the NFL, he kicked for Detroit and Philadelphia.
– Dominique Kelley-Johnson, Lincoln Northeast (2007): The state’s 2007 Gatorade girls basketball player of the year, she was the cornerstone of the Rockets’ basketball program that went 70-3 over three years as she scored 1,535 points. At NU, she started 110 consecutive games and scored more than 1,100 points.
– Niles Paul, Omaha North (2007): The consensus 2007 boys athlete of the year was a Parade High School All-American in football as a receiver, second-team All-Metro in basketball and was a two-time high hurdle gold medalist at state track. He was second-team All-Big 12 at NU in 2010 and played seven seasons in the NFL mostly with Washington.
– Michelle (Shoemaker) Meyer, Ansley (1990): A three-sport standout, she won nine events and one all-class gold and scored 112 points at the state track meet and was the first to win four individual events in one year. At NU, she won the Big Eight indoor pentathlon in 1994 and was conference runner-up three times in combined events.
– Fran (ten Bensel) Benne, Arapahoe (1988): In her career sweep of the Class C 800 titles, she twice was the all-class gold medalist. She is NU’s only three-time All-American in women’s cross country. She set Husker records in the indoor 1,600 and 3,000 and the outdoor 3,000.
– Neil Unterseher, Lincoln High (1958): A three-time No. 1 singles state champion in tennis who was team captain and an NCAA quarterfinalist at Texas, he was an All-Nebraska point guard on the Links’ 1958 Class AA state champions in basketball, averaging 13 points per game.
– Kristi Woodard, Bellevue West (2002): The World-Herald’s 2002 girls athlete of the year was the state’s Miss Nebraska and Gatorade girls basketball player of the year. She also was the only senior starter on the volleyball team that qualified for state for the 15th year in a row and ran on the gold-medal 3,200 relay at state track. At Creighton, she was an 1,100-point scorer in basketball and played volleyball as a senior.
– Darrell Hoffman, Beatrice: His girls golf teams qualified for the state tournament in 26 of 27 years, winning four Class B state championships and finishing second four times.
– Arnie Johnson, Albion: Compiled a 239-122-1 in a 35-year football coaching career at Howells, Albion, Boone Central and Boone Central/Newman Grove. Coached the Cardinals to two state titles and to the finals two other times.
– Gaylen Kamrath, David City: Led the Scouts’ wrestling teams to four state championships and seven runner-up finishes between 1978 to 2011.
– Jody Rhodes, Paxton: The 2004 World-Herald girls coach of the year put together five state championship teams in volleyball and two in boys basketball for the Tigers.
– Dan Sorge, Shickley: The 1993 World-Herald girls coach of the year took the Longhorns to seven state volleyball championships and a then state-record 104 consecutive victories.
– Ann Schroeder, Lincoln: Officiated boys and girls high school basketball games for 35 years, including 11 state tournaments. She was part of the first two-woman crew at the state tournament. The former NU softball player coached Norris to the 1991 Class B volleyball title.
– Karen Hand, Lincoln: In her 33 years in the athletic office at Lincoln Public Schools, 23 as the district’s athletic director, she promoted and oversaw LPS schools adding softball and soccer as well as triple jump and pole vault for girls.
– Buck Mahoney, Kearney: The longtime sports editor for the Kearney Hub has covered south-central Nebraska sports for more than 40 years and one of the original members of the Hall of Fame board of directors..
In addition to the inductees, the Hall honors individuals and teams for their role in making high school sports the best game in town.
Fischer Family Award: Ralph and Lorraine Scott Family of Ansley.
Gustafson Award: Cross country runners Blake Cerveny of Omaha Burke and Brandon Schutt of Bellevue East leaned on each other to finish their district race.
Great Moments in High School Sports: Elkhorn South triplets Jon, Ben and Seth Fink played four years of varsity tennis earning state medals from 2015-18.
Great Moments in High School Sports: Initial NSAA state championships in bowling and girls wrestling.
Dominant Dynasties: Hastings St. Cecilia girls track and field (1971-81) won seven straight Class C state championships from 1971 to 1977, and another in 1980.
Golden Anniversary: First-state volleyball champions – Omaha Marian (Class A), Waverly (Class B), Mitchell (Class C), Beaver Valley (Class D).
Silver Anniversary: Lincoln Northeast boys basketball (22-1), which set a Class A record winning its fourth straight state championship.