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CURRENT ARTICLE
04/05/2015 - From The Press Box: Wall and Noonan Are Among The Inductees Into Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame

 Once again, two more former Lincoln Northeast athletes are to be enshrined for their achievements.

Jan Wall, the Lincoln Journal Star athlete of the year in 1958, and Danny Noonan are among 11 athletes who will join four coaches, one official and two contributors into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 4 at Lincoln East High School.

Wall, who happens to be my uncle, was a star basketball and baseball player at Northeast.  He was a two-time All-State selection and helped the Rockets to a runner-up spot in the 1956 Class AA championship.  In baseball, he struck out 121 batters in 103 innings and had an impressive ERA of 0.88, which is a school record.  Wall also led Northeast to their only state baseball title in 1957.  He would go on to play basketball and baseball at Nebraska, before a minor league baseball career in the New York Mets organization.  

After baseball, Wall coached and taught at a few high schools in Nebraska, including Scottsbluff, before moving to suburban Denver to continue teaching and coaching.

Danny Noonan played on Northeast's only state final football team under the playoff format in 1982.  He earned All-State and honorable mention All-American before going on to what turned out to be an illustrious college football career at Nebraska, where he became an All-American.  

After college, Noonan played six years in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.

Both Wall and Noonan join other former Rockets, such as longtime basketball coach Ed Johnson, multi-sport letterman Cliff Squires, former athletes of the year Dave Lebsack and Maury Damkroger, to name a few.

Former Husker football players Calvin Jones and Russ Hochstein are other familiar names on the list.  Jones starred on the gridiron at Omaha Central, while Hochstein won 12 varsity letters in football, basketball and track at Hartington Cedar Catholic.  Both won Super Bowl rings playing in the NFL.

Even "The Dream" is being inducted for his wizardry on the basketball court.  I'm referring to Omaha Westside's Dean Thompson, of course.

Anyone following high school basketball in the late 1970s and early 1980s remembers how a 6-1 guard lit up the scoreboard with his shooting.  As a senior in 1980, Thompson led Westside to their only boys state basketball title.  They defeated a Lincoln East team that featured one of the city of Lincoln's all-time best, Alex Stivrins.  Thompson's 28, though, was better that Stivrins' 24 in the championship game.  

While Stivrins play college ball at Creighton and Colorado before an 11-year run as a pro in the NBA and Europe, Thompson went on to become the all-time leading scorer in Nebraska-Omaha history.  Thompson would play a little pro ball with the now defunct Omaha Racers of the CBA.

Here's a rundown of the rest of inductees for the 2015 class.

Bob Green, Creighton Prep, 1978 – A three-time state tennis champion at No. 1 singles, he never lost a match his last three years, going 67-0. He was a three-time team MVP at Boston University who went on to pro tennis, reaching No 39 in the world in 1984.

--Tonya (Kneifl) Gordon, Newcastle, 1997 – The state track meet's gold standard, she set hing jump, long jump and triple jump records while amassing more points at the state meet than any other female athlete. She won 12 Class D gold medals, two all-class gold medals and was never beaten in the high jump or triple jump during her high school career. She scored 1,987 points in basketball, which still ranks in the top 15, and led Newcastle to the 1994 state title.

--Jenny Kropp-Goess, Grand Island Central Catholic, 1998 –  A four-year letterwinner in volleyball and basketball, she helped the Crusaders win one state volleyball championship in thre state finals appearances. She earned All-American honors at Nebraska and went on to play professional indoor and sand volleyball.

--Lionel McPhaull, Omaha North, 1993 – A three-sport letterman, his signature sport was track where he was a seven-time gold medalist, setting the state record in the 400. At the University of South Dakota, he was a 10-time All-American. He competed professionally for two years.


--Alice Schmidt, Elkhorn, 2000 – An Olympian in 2008 and a three-time NCAA champion, she dominated middle distances in high school track, setting the state record in the 800. She collected five all-class gold medals and 12 Class B gold medals at the state track meet.

--P.J. Wiseman, Ralston, 1992 – A five-time individual gold medalist at the state swim meet, he was listed in the state's all-time top-10 performance  in six of the eight individual events and all three relays. He was a five-time All-American swimmer at the University of Tennessee.


Coaches:

--Dan Brost, Mullen – Led Mullen to five Class D state wrestling championships and three runner-up finishes in 31 years. He coached 29 state champions in his 31-year career. He was the athletics director at Mullen and McPherson County before his death this past winter.


--Dan Keyser, Cambridge – Coached the Cambridge football team to six state championships and two other finals appearances while posting a 198-51 career record. The Trojans' 48-game winning streak, which ended in 1999, is the state record.  

--Doug Krecklow, Omaha Westside – His Westside boys have won 11 state swimming championships and five runner-up trophies during his 34-year tenure, and the girls won nine state championships with seven runnner-up finishes.


--Sharon Zavala, Grand Island Central Catholic – She has 875 victories in her 40-year career as a volleyball coach, leading the Crusaders to nine state championships, eight state runner-ups and 26 state tournament appearances.


Official:

--Doug Martin, North Platte: A versatile arbiter, he officiated basketball for 42 years, football for 38 years and track for 19 years, including nine state championship games in football and basketball.

Contributors:

--Phil Cahoy Sr., Omaha – For more than 50 years, his gymnastics training center in Omaha has provided the foundation for countless prep gymnasts including a two Olympians, Jim Hartung and Phil Cahoy, Jr.. He has coached junior national teams that have competed in Japan, South Africa, Australia, Hungary and German.

--Bob Jensen, Central City – A long-time newspaper man, he is the founder and publisher of Huskerland Prep Report, evolving it from a a  weekly statitics report into a multi-media publication featuring athletes from border to border.

Honorees:

--Fischer Family Award: Arnold and MaryAnn Thiele, Clearwater: Sons played key roles in creating the Clearwater dynasty. Grandchildren are making their mark on volleyball and basketball court while dominating juniro golf.


--Gustafson Inspiration Award: Kenzie May, Southwest: Born without a right hand and forearm, she was the most valuable teammate in the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Volleyball Game and is now playing volleyball and running tack and Chadron State.


--Golden Anniversary Team: Bertrand Football: Undefeated (9-0), giving up only one touchdown in the last five games. Their average score was 38-4.


--Golden Anniversary Team:; Omaha Central Track. Led by Bobby Allen, Jim Hunter and Joe Orduna, Coach Frank Smagacz's Eagles repeasted as Class A state champions, winning five events to outscore runner-up Omaha Tech 58-33.


--Silver Anniversary Team: Papillion-LaVista Football: The undefeated Class A state champions (12-0), coached by Gene Suhr, set Class A scoring records in the regular season and playoffs. Beat Grand Island 42-21 for the state title.


--Silver Anniversary Team: Sutton Girls Basketball: The only undefeated (26-0) girls basketball team in 1990-91, the Fillies edged Crofton 40-38 in the Class C-1 state final. Coach John Schoneberg's team averaged 63 points per game.


--Silver Anniversary Team: Mullen Football/Wrestling – Coach Mike Brown took the Broncos to an undefeated state championship season in Eight Man-1 football before coach --Dan Brost guided Mullen to its third consectivite state championship in Class D wrestling.


--Dominant Dynasty:  Howells Football/Wrestling 2000-2012: The Bobcats won 10 state football championships under coach Mike Speirs and they had 12 top-ten finishes in wrestling under coaches Lee Schroeder and then Brian Jones, including four Class D state titles and two runner-up finishes.


--Great Moment in High School Sports: Jacob Molacek, Creighton Prep,  set six state records and one national record at the 2014 state swimming and diving championships.

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