This year's induction class for the Omaha Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame includes two athletes who competed nationally and the first husband-wife duo to be honored.
Jackie Washington of Omaha Central (1979) was on the U.S. women's track teams in 1981, 1982 and 1983. David Washington of Omaha Tech (1980) was the state's first wrestler selected for the national Dapper Dan Classic in Pittsburgh.
Other athletes being honored are Sarah (Fredstrom) Secrest (1994) of Omaha Burke and Steve Spurlock of Omaha Bryan (1988).
Coaches to be inducted are Vern Ekfelt of Omaha North, Cletus Fischer of Omaha South and Edward “Scotty” Orcutt of Omaha Benson (all deceased) and Roy Katskee of Omaha Northwest.
In a new induction category, Wally and Denise Knight are the first middle-school coaches to be honored. Retired OPS athletic administrator Duane Haith is selected as a community contributor.
The hall's eighth annual induction dinner and ceremony will be Nov. 23 at the Champions Run clubhouse, 13800 Eagle Run Drive. Tickets are $85 a person for the 6 p.m. social hour and 7 p.m. dinner and program. Tickets are available by calling the OPS athletic office at 402-557-2407.
Vern Ekfelt, North (coach): A key figure in the development of high school wrestling in the state, he coached wrestling and baseball at Central (1941 to 1946) and North (1946 to 1959) and had a 36-year OPS career. His wrestlers won 58 individual state championships during his 18-year coaching career. His teams won state titles in 1942, 1944 and 1945 at Central and in 1951 at North. In 1954, his Legion baseball team advanced to the national sectionals. Ekfelt organized the state's first wrestling invitational in 1947, which for a time was larger than the state meet, and in 1981 the meet was named for him. The native of Delhi, Minn., didn't wrestle until enrolling at Iowa in 1934, but the next year was the Big Ten's 118-pound champion. Also played four years of baseball at Iowa, where a teammate was Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick from Benson. Ekfelt, who was 86 when he died in 1995, is in the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches, Nebraska High School Sports and National Wrestling Halls of Fame and is included among the North High Vikings of Distinction.
Cletus Fischer, South (coach): An all-state six-man football player at St. Edward in 1942, he played for Nebraska from 1945 to 1948 and for the New York Giants in 1949. He coached at St. Edward, Columbus St. Bonaventure and at Omaha South, which shared the 1958 ratings title with Omaha Creighton Prep. Fischer left South for Midland, Texas. He was an assistant coach for 26 years at Nebraska, the last 17 as offensive line coach while developing Outland-Lombardi winners Dave Rimington and Dean Steinkuhler and nine other first-team All-Americans. He is in the Nebraska High School Sports and Nebraska Football Halls of Fame. Fischer died in 2000 at 75.
Sarah (Fredstrom) Secrest, Burke (1994): The World-Herald and B'nai B'rith girls athlete of the year in 1994, she was an all-stater in softball and basketball and a four-time state doubles champion in tennis. At Colorado State, she set nine school records in an All-America softball career that ended in 1998. She has been inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports and the Colorado State Athletic Halls of Fame.
Roy Katskee, Northwest (coach): His Huskies won one state championship in boys gymnastics and five in girls gymnastics, with eight combined Metro Conference titles. He had eight state all-around champions. The teams' combined dual record was 301-78. Also coached boys track and girls softball at Northwest. His track teams produced 27 individual Metro and state champions. In his six years as head softball coach, his teams had an overall record of 79-31 with three all-state players. A Central graduate who played football and baseball, he graduated from UNO. Katskee has been inducted into the Jewish Community Center Athletic Hall of Fame, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Northwest Hall of Fame.
Edward “Scotty” Orcutt, Benson (coach): A champion coach in three sports, he was the dean of the city's baseball coaches before a fall led to his death in 1972. His teams won three league tournament titles and won or shared five regular-season crowns as the Bunnies were 188-99-3 in his 28 years. His basketball record was 179-153 over 19 seasons, with state finals appearances in 1951 and 1954 and a final No. 1 ranking in 1961. Also coached Benson to the 1943 boys gymnastics state title. Orcutt came to Nebraska from Winthrop, Mass., to attend NU. He lettered two years in baseball, then was NU's assistant coach for the next three years. He coached one year at Farnam, Neb., and three years at Underwood High in Omaha (now part of District 66). Orcutt is enshrined in the Benson academic and athletic halls of fame and the Nebraska High School Sports and Omaha Oldtimers Baseball Association Halls of Fame. His name has graced the annual Metro all-star baseball game since 1973.
Steve Spurlock, Bryan (1988): He was an all-conference basketball player at Appalachian State, and his pro career included stops in Venezuela, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, France and Spain over 12 seasons. At Appalachian State, he was newcomer of the year in 1990. As a senior, he was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection for the second straight year, averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He finished his career among the top 20 scorers all-time at ASU with 1,283 points. At Bryan, he was a three-year varsity player who was all-division in the Metro Conference and third-team All-Nebraska as a senior when he averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds a game. Spurlock lives in the Dallas area.
David Washington, Tech (1980): In three years of high school wrestling, he was a two-time prep All-American with an 89-2 career record. Won state titles at 105 pounds as a junior and senior and was a three-time Metro champion. He was the first from Nebraska chosen for the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic in Pittsburgh. He graduated from UNO, where he wrestled after originally signing with Missouri. While coaching at North, he helped guide the Vikings to three consecutive state titles and five overall. Washington was inducted last year into the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.
Jackie Washington, Central (1979): A member of the U.S. women's track team in 1981, 1982 and 1983, she saw her career cut short by a bone disease. She was ranked third in the nation in the women's 100 hurdles in 1981 and sixth in 1983 while competing for Cal State-Northridge, UCLA and the Shaklee Track Club. At Central, she won eight Class A titles and seven all-class gold medals in the sprints, relays and her high school specialty, the high hurdles.
Denise (Massengale) Knight, Monroe Middle School: Coached volleyball, boys and girls swimming and diving and intramural sports at Monroe from 1977 until her retirement. Her girls swim teams were city champions seven times. She continues to serve OPS as a middle school swim meet official. A 1973 North graduate, she lettered in girls tennis and played AAU basketball. She was North's girls athlete of the year in 1973. She graduated in 1977 from NU, where she competed in field hockey and freshman club basketball.
Wally Knight, Monroe Middle School: Taught and coached at Monroe from 1978 to 2010. His teams in football, boys and girls basketball, gymnastics and track won numerous middle school city titles. He was an assistant football coach at Benson and was co-offensive coordinator for the Bunnies' state runner-up team in 1994, earning him a share of the Metro assistant football coach of the year award. He also was baseball coach at Central in 1983 — leading the Eagles to their first state tournament berth since 1940 — and 1984. A 1973 Northwest graduate who stood out as a left-handed pitcher for coach Bill Olson, he was a scholarship baseball player at UNO. Knight now directs the Tagge Rutherford youth sports program.
Duane Haith, Community Contributor: He was the coordinator of physical education for the Omaha Public Schools from 1979 to 1998 and was instrumental in the Nebraska School Activities Association holding track, baseball, softball, tennis and soccer state championship events in Omaha. He served as co-meet director of the state track meet for 25 years and the state softball tournament for 10 years. He was an administrator or adviser for the State Special Olympics and Junior Olympics. He joined the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame board in 1995 and served as president from 1996 to 2000. He is a graduate of Plattsmouth High School, Peru State and NU.
Benson: Homer Smith, Nile Kinnick, Dick Weston, Dave Hoppen, Kathy Knudsen, Grant Simmons, Bobby Bass; Bryan: Tim Bond, John Rasmussen, Mike Denney, Ken Clark, Bill Gavers, Reshea Bristol, Mike Trader; Burke: George Andrews, John Johnette, Barney Cotton, Jill Garlock, Larry Jacobsen, Rod Kush, Dick Cotton; Central: Maurtice Ivy, Gale Sayers, Roger Sayers, Joe Orduna, Mallery Ivy Higgs, Jo Dusatko, Larry Station; North: Dick Davis, Bob Churchich, Eli Churchich, Rook Taylor, Lionel McPhaull, Bob Murray, Leonard Bond; Northwest: Bill Olson, Karli Urban Newman, Gregg Olson, Jack Hallstrom, Ron Kellogg, Jeff Churchich, Dick Koch; South: Marlin Briscoe, Dave Rimington, Johnny Goodman, Phil Cahoy, Cornie Collin, Tom Novak, Beau Haizlip; Tech: Bob Boozer, Bob Gibson, Johnny Rodgers, Neal Mosser, Jim Houston, Dick Christie, Curlee Alexander.