Friday, October 25, 2019

Professional football, baseball players headline OPS Athletic Hall of Fame class


·         20 hrs ago

NFL alumni Chris Bober and Alex Henery and pro baseball pitcher Pat Venditte will enter the Omaha Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 23.

Jane Splittergerber-Elam (Benson), Mike Bahun (Bryan), Charlie Rush (Northwest), Russell Harrison (Technical) and the 1997 Omaha North girls swimming team will join Bober (South), Henery (Burke) and Venditte (Central) as this year’s inductees.

Bober was in the NFL for eight years, Henery for four. Venditte broke into the majors with his switch pitching in 2015.
The 14th annual induction dinner and ceremony, which starts at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour, will be at Metro Community College’s North Omaha Campus Culinary Arts Building, 5370 N. 30th St. Dinner is $85 a person or $750 for a table of 10 and reservations are needed. Call the OPS Athletic Office at (531) 299-9890.
More information on the honorees:
Jane Splittgerber-Elam, Benson (2002): One of the Bunnies’ most versatile female athletes of all-time, she lettered 10 times in five different sports: volleyball, softball, tennis, soccer and basketball. She was on the junior varsity football team as a sophomore. She was all-state in soccer and all-division in basketball. At UNO, she played on three Division II Final Four soccer teams and was the defensive MVP of the North Central Conference tournament in 2004. She is girls soccer coach at Millard South, with a career record of 99-88, and the east region director for Special Olympics Nebraska.
Mike Bahun, Bryan (1993): A three-sport athlete for the Bears, he was All-Nebraska and a National High School Baseball Coaches Association all-district selection as he led the state in batting average. He also wrestled, setting takedown records, and played football for the Bears while earning 11 letters. He was a third-team NJCAA All-American at Iowa Western and second-team All-Big Eight and Iowa State Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 1996. He has been a high school and volunteer assistant college baseball coach and operates Fundraising University.
Alex Henery, Burke (2006): The former Husker and NFL kicker was the All-Nebraska punter as a senior at Burke and set Burke’s career scoring record in soccer as a two-time All-Nebraska midfielder. A walk-on at NU, he was all-conference while setting the career scoring record for football with 397 points and the NCAA career accuracy records for field goals and all kicks. He had a game-winning 57-yard field goal against Colorado as a sophomore. Selected by Philadelphia in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, he set the league record for accuracy by a rookie kicker and was the Eagles’ starter for three years.
Pat Venditte, Central (2004): MLB’s first switch pitcher in the modern era was all-conference at Creighton. At Central, he lettered twice and was 5-4 as a senior while making the All-Nebraska second team. A walk-on at CU, he pitched for four years and was second-team All-America and the MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in 2007. Drafted twice by the New York Yankees, he’s pitched for five MLB teams since getting called up for the first time in 2015 and was voted to the AAA All-Star Game in 2018 and 2019.
1997 North Girls Swim Team: The first team to enter the Hall of Fame gave North its only state championship in girls swimming and diving. The Vikings were runners-up in 1995 and they were without Olympic hopeful Shandra Johnson the next season. It all came together in 1997 with seniors Amy Anderson, Anna Kathol, Meredith Sides and Johnson, juniors Madeline Porta, Kari O’Neill and Ali Peterson and sophomore Sharessa Johnson. At state, Shandra Johnson set state records in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, Peterson broke the 100 backstroke record and the Vikings, coached by Allison Terry, won two of the three relay events.
Charlie Rush, Northwest (athletic director): During his 16 years at Northwest, the Huskies won 10 state championships and were state runners-up 10 times across multiple sports. The Bellevue High athlete and NU graduate coached all sports at tiny Walton High before four years as wrestling coach at Lincoln Pius X. At now-closed Ryan High in Omaha, his last three years were as athletic director. He came to OPS in 1976 as a teacher at Tech for one year before tabbed as Northwest’s athletic director. He concluded his OPS career as athletic director at South from 1993 to 1999. He entered the Northwest Hall of Fame in 2012.
Chris Bober, South (1995): The eight-year offensive lineman in the NFL started 37 of his 92 games after starting 45 consecutive games at UNO. At South, he was a three-year letterman in football and baseball. His football career took off at UNO as he added nearly 100 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame. He was a two-time Division II All-American. The New York Giants signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1990, and he was on the active roster for three games. In his next three years he started 31 of 47 games. With Kansas City, he saw action in 44 of 48 games through 2006 and was placed on injured reserve for 2007 before retiring in 2008.
Russell Harrison, Technical (1967): A stellar senior year in football led to a scholarship at Kansas State and a chance at pro football. Born in Harlem, New York, he moved with his family to Omaha after grade school and attended Mann Junior High and Tech. He was a three-year starter for the Trojans, who were 8-1 his senior year as he made All-Nebraska and All-Metro. “Without him, we would have been 1-8,’’ coach Dick Christie said. In track, he set a longstanding national Junior Olympic age-group record in the 100-yard dash. As a Tech senior, he ran on the co-gold medal 880-yard relay, was second in the high and low hurdles at the 1967 state meet and led the state in the triple jump. At Kansas State, he lettered three years at fullback. The Los Angeles Rams drafted him, but knee injuries sidelined his bids to play for the Rams and the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL. He entered the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
John Huebscher, middle school: The retired teacher and coach at King Science and Technology Magnet Center coached cross country, wrestling, track and boys and girls basketball during his 30 years at the school, with his boys basketball teams winning two division titles and one city title. The North High graduate played football at UNO and started in OPS as a teacher and gymnastics coach for four years at Tech before moving to King. He received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Nebraska Association of Physical Education and Recreation in 1990.

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