A Letter For Mr. Southard

Jock Talk


June 20, 2019

Payton Wise had a very good showing at the recent Kearney Junior Classic Golf Tournament held at the Meadowlark Hills Golf Course. Competing in the age 14-15 girl’s division the young Kimball standout finished 2nd with her round of 93 and 85 in the two day event for a 178 total. She was just 2 strokes behind the winner, Lynzi Becker of Cozad who shot 96-80=176.


Kate Reader, another Kimball standout athlete I have been writing about as she competed in a pair of girl’s All Star Basketball Tournaments, received more honor this past week. The recent Kimball High grad was selected to the Star Herald All Region 3rd team.

Donna DeFreece updated me on her grandson Jack O’Brien who I wrote about a short time back if you might remember. Jack is a young school boy and the son of former Karen DeFreece who was a very good athlete/student at Kimball High. You might recall that he is already on the watch list of the professional hockey team owners as a top prospect. This past week he was off to Austria to play on a select team. I tried to contact his Mom for a bit more information but could never make contact, but left a phone message so may still get some more info to pass your way.


A lot of good softball on tap this weekend at the Kimball Recreation ball diamonds. This is the annual Andy Shaw Memorial Softball Tournament to raise money to help “Strike Out Cancer”. There are 10 teams entered with play set for both Saturday and Sunday. Concessions will be sold at the site also.


I also asked a couple of weeks back for any of you readers to share some memories of State Track highlights and I felt quite certain that Dean Haines would provide us some interesting reading concerning some of those great Kimball High athletes of the mid sixties. Sure enough, I got a letter which I will simple share with you readers. Enjoy!

May 29, 2019

Dear Tom,

I just received my copy of the Western Nebraska Observer from Thursday May 23, 2019 and read your Jock Talk column requesting your readers to send you their memories of former Kimball, Potter, Dix or Banner County, Nebraska athletes who did great things at the Nebraska High School State Track and Field championships. In particular you were correct (as far as I know) that besides Jay Staehr in 1994 that prior to Brady Kilgore winning three medals at the State Championship in 2019 there were no others from these schools that previously did so. HOWEVER, in 1966 Steve Johnson finished second at the Nebraska State Championships in the 220 yard dash in a time of 23.0 seconds (a tenth of a second behind the winner from Broken Bow) despite being so sick that he vomited DURING the race. Earlier in the year Steve set a new school record of 22.4 seconds, equivalent to a 22.26 200 meters which would still leave him KCHS co-recorder holder with Dalton Lockwood who ran 22.3 in 2012 Steve won his second State Championship medal finishing third in the 100 yard dash with a 10.5 second time. Earlier in 1966 he ran a new KCHS school record 10.0 seconds which is equivalent to a 10.9 second 100 meters which still leaves him a co-recorder holder with Dave Soto in 1978 and Todd Bertucci in 1997 Steve along with his teammates, John Perkins, Milt Kennedy, and Dan Peterson actually finished first in the 880 yard relay at the 1966 State Championships which would have made Steve a three medal winner BUT a corner referee declared that the baton had been passed beyond the designated exchange area. Earlier in the year this same team set a new KCHS school record of 1:32.6 seconds equivalent to a 1:31.67, (rounded up to 1:31.7) for 800 meters, which record was broken in 1968 by a team composed of Pat O’Brien, Darrell Brown, Barry Frederick, and Harvey Miller who ran a 1:32.4 880 yards relay which is equivalent to a 1.31.48 800 meters. Kimball’s 1966 team won four meets all for the first time in Kimball history (Kimball Invitational, Chadron C Club, North Platte Valley Conference, and Mitchell Invitational). The 1967 team repeated as Kimball Invitational champion and for the first time in history won the Scottsbluff Relays Group II Championship. In 1966 his senior year Milt Kennedy broke the KCHS record in the 440 with an equivalent 400 meter time of 51.5 seconds. I was a junior that year and ran behind him with a 52.0 second time. I did not run the quarter mile in my senior year due to a heart murmur. Pat O’Brien (my teammate on KCHS record breaking mile relay and also 880 yard relay teams) broke the 400 meter record with a 50.9 second time in 1968. The current record holder being Chris Masada in 1979 and Ryan Vowers in 1986 with times of 50.5 seconds. Henry “Moose” Jennings was a double event qualifier in the shotput and discus in both 1966 (his junior year) and in 1967 Nebraska State Championships when earlier in the year he broke his own school record with a 51’ 6” shotput throw, a record now held by Mitch Daum with his 53’ 10.25” throw.

In 1965 John Perkins threw the discus 145’ which placed in second in KCHS history behind Jerry Randal’s 155’ 9” throw in 1962 which was bettered by Mitch Daum’s 156’ 3” throw in 1982. While John consistently was Kimball’s best discus thrower throughout his senior year of 1966, in the District Championships he finished third behind Henry Jennings (a junior) and since only the first two places qualified for the Nebraska State Championships John just missed performing in two events at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships. Jim Sobieszczyk made a 6.0’ high jump at the 1966 Nebraska State Championship earning him the third place medal and second in KCHS school history behind Francis Cortney’s 6’ 5” jump in 1946 since broken by Jeff Schneider’s 6’ 6” jump in 1983. While on scholarship to Kearney State College Jim Sobie also became the first 7’ high jumper in all of Nebraska at any level winning the NAIA championship his senior year in 1971 and went from there to qualify four times (1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984) to compete at the Olympic Trials in the decathlon. In the 1967 Nebraska State Championship Kimball’s two mile relay team of Morris Abshier, Alan Rasmussen, Doug Moehr and Stan Ebel won the gold medal with a new school record time of 8:21.7 equivalent to a 8:16.68 3200 meters which record was broken in 1978 with a 8:09.6 by Jody Colson, Bob Volkmer, Tim Wackel and Gary Danielsen. In 1967 Stan Ebel set the new KCHS record at 880 yards with a time of 2:01.3 equivalent to a 2:00.09 800 meters, which record was broken in 1973 by Keith Longmore’s 1:58.4. Pat O’Brien was a Nebraska State Track Championship qualifier both his Junior and Senior years. Pat was my teammate along with Stan Ebel, and Morris Abshier when we won the Gold Medal (considering times in all Classes) in the Mile Medley relay at the 1967 Scottsbluff Relays with a new KCHS school record 3:47.2 equivalent to a 3:44.9 1600 meters since broken in 1974 by Randy Volkmer, Jim Gillis, Randy Smith and Dick Moore running 3:42.5. Pat was also on the 1966 and 1967 teams that set new KCHS school records in the 480 yard low hurdle relay, the 280 yard high hurdle relay, (where his teammates were Jim Sobie in 1966 and Darrell Brown in 1967 and Bruce Evertsen, and Bob McCarty in both years), and Mile Relay in 1966 (where his teammates were Ron Barrett, Larry Trujillo and myself). Bob McCarty set the KCHS school record in the 70 yard high hurdles (in 1966), the 180 yard low hurdles (record tied by Pat O’Brien) and the 120 yard high hurdles in 1967 (equivalent to the 110 meter high hurdles they run now). Brady Kilgore broke Bob’s 110 meter high hurdle record in 2017 with a time of 14.6 seconds and Brady just won the Gold Medal in the 2019 Nebraska State Championships with a time of 14.786 (14.79) seconds.


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